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. Recommended By Moses M., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.
A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.
As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.
A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s — 1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.
“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.” The New York Times Book Review
"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." Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
"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." New York Times Magazine
"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." Los Angeles Times
"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. Entertainment Weekly
"[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." Cleveland Plain Dealer
“[1Q84] is fundamentally different from its predecessors. We realize before long that it is a road. And what the writer has laid down is a yellow brick road. It passes over stretches of deadly desert, to be sure, through strands of somniferous poppies, and past creatures that hurl their heads, spattering us with spills of kinked enigma. But the destination draws us: We crave it, and the craving intensifies as we go along (unlike so many contemporary novels that are sampler menus with neither main course nor appetite to follow). More important, the travelers we encounter, odd and wildly disparate as they are, possess a quality hard to find in Murakami’s previous novels: a rounded, sometimes improbable humanity with as much allure as mystery. It is not just puzzlement they present, but puzzled tenderness; most of all in the two leading figures, Aomame and Tengo. Converging through all manner of subplot and peril, they arouse a desire in us that almost mirrors their own....Murakami makes us want to follow them; we are reluctant to relinquish them. Who would care about the yellow brick road without Scarecrow’s, Woodman’s and Lion’s freakiness and yearning? What is a road, particularly Murakami’s intricately convoluted road, without its human wayfarers?” Richard Eder, The Boston Globe
About the Author
Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into more than forty languages, and the most recent of his many international honors is the Jerusalem Prize, whose previous recipients include J. M. Coetzee, Milan Kundera, and V. S. Naipaul.