The introduction, discussion questions, and suggested further reading that follow are designed to enhance your group’s discussion of 1Q84, the magnum opus of critically acclaimed and best-selling novelist, Haruki Murakami, author of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Norwegian Wood, and Kafka On the Shore.
W S Krauss, June 21, 2014 (view all comments by W S Krauss)
1Q84 crosses genres. It is a love story, speculative fiction and fantasy. The two main characters meet briefly as children and affect each other's lives until they finally meet again. That said, there is a very long road to travel before they see each other again. Aomame stumbles into a parallel world she names 1Q84. Tengo is called upon by a friend in the publishing industry to edit a story written by a high school girl for entrance into a literary contest. These actions create a cascade of events that lead the characters to each other. It is an astonishing book, full of themes and imagery. I enjoyed this book immensely and see why it is being called Murakami's masterpiece.
h, July 5, 2013 (view all comments by h)
This novel is for those who are already Murakami devotees, and not only because it's ~1200 pages. The story itself envelops you, but the laconic prose might turn off those who don't already know how the author builds worlds. It's a generic hybrid of love story, detective story, and mystery-laced fantasy. It's divided into 3 books (that were separately released in Japan) with each chapter oscillating between two characters. In the 3rd book, a 3rd character becomes the focus of chapters. This was an unwelcome change to the narrative pacing.
DAM, January 31, 2013 (view all comments by DAM)
This book is an amazing journey with someone who is able to connect with his imagination in a way that I've never before seen. With Murakami at the wheel, each time the plot takes another bizarre turn, I felt, not confused or lost, but like I had just taken another breath-taking tight corner in a fast-moving Porsche!
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."
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