I've been pondering my thoughts about this book. And, ultimately, the word I keep coming back to in relation to this book is... basket.
The construction of the story is woven like a basket. Murakami starts with various separate pieces, then begins weaving them together. As the story circles around & around, the weaving gets tighter, pulling all the pieces closer together while rotating again & again. (I realize that some have gotten bogged down in the repetition of the story, but I found it fascinating to watch his construction, to watch him carefully take one tiny design, include it somewhere else later, and continue sprinkling it through so that the final product produces a beautiful, cohesive design.)
The finished product is an epic, yet simple story, well-constructed. It is an impressive work created by a master craftsman. A universal story that, like baskets that have been used in most societies from ancient times to present day, can appeal across cultural divides, across time divides. Functional, useful, and beautiful at the same time. Universal themes such as love, ethics, religion, reality, and many more are woven into the story -- topics that would have been as appropriate a thousand years ago as they are today to people both far & wide. A design that is recognizable across cultures, yet has unique components that showcase Murakami's style & heritage too. And even though this story is like a modern-day basket, it pays homage to the ones before it, referencing some of the great works produced by artists, authors, and others from past times. A reflection of both old & new (& perhaps what is yet to come?).
And this book made me sure to look at the moon, more than once. And how can I not love a book that reminds me to be awed by the beauty of the moon? Our universal, shared moon... common to every person on the planet.
This is the third Murakami work I've read & I'd definitely rate it as the most mainstream of the ones I've read, yet it's not necessarily the one I'd recommend starting with if you've never read Murakami. Perhaps you can get a deeper appreciation for his skill if you're already a fan of his work. Otherwise, it might be to easy to dismiss 1Q84 as simple or basic, when in reality it is a masterpiece created by a world-class artist.
Ironically, I was a bit surprised by the (happy) ending. Because, even though I saw the story being crafted through hundreds of pages, I was still unsure if Aomame & Tengo were heading toward happiness or not.... Did fate lead them there or was it their free-will? Once I saw where Aomame's & Tengo's stories ended in this book, I have to believe they will overcome any adversities they meet & enjoy a happy future together. They have already weathered the adverse, the strange, the mundane to get to the end, or beginning, of their story together. Time is a circle, watched over by the moon.
J Schaefer, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by J Schaefer)
Murakami creates a fantasy world that's just a tick or two off from the real world, and two long lost lovers who must cross the membrane between these worlds to find each other. It's a fantastic escape and worth the significant time commitment.
Brad Grantley, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Brad Grantley)
1Q84 was my first introduction to Haruki Murakami. I saw the novel at a bookstore when it first came out, but it took me six months to get around to buying a copy. But when I did, WHEW - what a ride. 1Q84 is instantly and addictively compelling. I read what must have been 600 pages in a single week. The story toes the line of normal everyday and plain weird (in an awesome way). The characters are wild and unique, and you get to know them so intimately.
While it may not be the MOST phenomenal piece of writing ever, it is an engrossing, entertaining work that is definitely worth a read.
porcelainivy, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by porcelainivy)
I love the way Murakami incorporates magic into everyday life. I was excited to read a book that was longer than his usual novel length as I'm always left wanting more! He didn't disappoint. Just the right mix of reality and mystery. :-)
twd3lr, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by twd3lr)
Definitely the best book I read in 2012 in terms of structure, interwoven plot lines, imagination, and frustration! It is, at its core, a love story, but one twisted up in a strange sci-fi alternate reality. I thought about it for days after finishing it and revisit my thoughts about it regularly. It will be worth another read sometime in the future.
Knopf Publishing Group -
Part of the thrill was the anticipation. After waiting for over a year for its publication, I grabbed 1Q84 and swallowed it whole. While it read simply and progressed slowly, it filled like a three-course meal. Being a long-term Murakami fan, I have seen the same themes and images reworked and woven into a variety of dreamlike states. This novel revisits the innocence of Norwegian Wood, but its mild-manneredness tricks the reader into believing it is a simple love story. Instead, Murakami gradually reveals the sinister nature of his characters and entwines the dance of love with the act of murder.
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"The massive new novel from international sensation Murakami (What I Talk About When I Talk About Running) sold out in his native Japan, where it was released in three volumes, and is bound to provoke a similar reaction in America, where rabid fans are unlikely to be deterred by its near thousand-page bulk. Nor should they be; Murakami's trademark plainspoken oddness is on full display in this story of lapsed childhood friends Aomame and Tengo, now lonely adults in 1984 Tokyo, whose destinies may be curiously intertwined. Aomame is a beautiful assassin working exclusively for a wealthy dowager who targets abusive men. Meanwhile Tengo, an unpublished writer and mathematics instructor at a cram school, accepts an offer to write a novel called Air Chrysalis based on a competition entry written by an enigmatic 17-year-old named Fuka-Eri. Fuka-Eri proves to be dangerously connected to the infamous Sakigake cult, whose agents are engaged in a bloody game of cat-and-mouse with Aomame. Even stranger is that two moons have appeared over Tokyo, the dawning of a parallel time line known as 1Q84 controlled by the all-powerful Little People. The condensing of three volumes into a single tome makes for some careless repetition, and casual readers may feel that what actually occurs doesn't warrant such length. But Murakami's fans know that his focus has always been on the quiet strangeness of life, the hidden connections between perfect strangers, and the power of the non sequitur to reveal the associative strands that weave our modern world. 1Q84 goes further than any Murakami novel so far, and perhaps further than any novel before it, toward exposing the delicacy of the membranes that separate love from chance encounters, the kind from the wicked, and reality from what people living in the pent-up modern world dream about when they go to sleep under an alien moon." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
by The New York Times Book Review,
"Murakami is like a magician who explains what he's doing as he performs the trick and still makes you believe he has supernatural powers....But while anyone can tell a story that resembles a dream, it's the rare artist, like this one, who can make us feel that we are dreaming it ourselves."
by Michael Dirda, The Washington Post,
"Once you start reading 1Q84, you won't want to do much else until you've finished it. Murakami possesses many gifts, but chief among them is an almost preternatural gift for suspenseful storytelling....Despite its great length, Murakami's novel is tightly plotted, without fat, and he knows how to make dialogue, even philosophical dialogue, exciting....There's no question about the sheer enjoyability of this gigantic novel, both as an eerie thriller and as a moving love story....I read the book in three days and have been thinking about it ever since."
by New York Times Magazine,
"A book that...makes you marvel, reading it, at all the strange folds a single human brain can hold....A grand, third-person, all encompassing meganovel. It is a book full of anger and violence and disaster and weird sex and strange new realities, a book that seems to want to hold all of Japan inside of it....Murakami has established himself as the unofficial laureate of Japan — arguably its chief imaginative ambassador, in any medium, to the world: the primary source, for many millions of readers, of the texture and shape of his native country....I was surprised to discover, after so many surprising books, that he managed to surprise me again."
by Los Angeles Times,
"Profound....A multilayered narrative of loyalty and loss....A fully articulated vision of a not-quite-nightmare world....A big sprawling novel [that] achieves what is perhaps the primary function of literature: to reimagine, to reframe, the world....At the center of [1Q84's] reality...is the question of love, of how we find it and how we hold it, and the small fragile connections that sustain us, even (or especially) despite the odds....This is a major development in Murakami's writing....A vision, and an act of the imagination."
by Entertainment Weekly,
"1Q84 is one of those books that disappear in your hands, pulling you into its mysteries with such speed and skill that you don't even notice as the hours tick by and the mountain of pages quietly shrinks....I finished 1Q84 one fall evening, and when I set it down, baffled and in awe, I couldn't help looking out the window to see if just the usual moon hung there or if a second orb had somehow joined it. It turned out that this magical novel did not actually alter reality. Even so, its enigmatic glow makes the world seem a little strange long after you turn the last page.
by Cleveland Plain Dealer,
"[A] masterwork...[Murakami has] crafted what may well become a classic literary rendering of pre-2011 Japan....Orwell wrote his masterpiece to reflect a future dystopia through a Cold War lens....Similarly, Murakami's 1Q84 captures attitudes and circumstances that characterize Japanese life before the March earthquake-tsunami-nuclear disaster. Reading 1Q84, once can't help but sense already how things have changed."
The long-awaited magnum opus from Haruki Murakami, in which this revered and best-selling author gives us his hypnotically addictive, mind-bending ode to George Orwell's 1984.
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