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 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.
by Ingrid Josephine
1Q84 was published in Japan in three separate volumes over 2009–10 and sold four million copies, piquing interest worldwide. The English translation has been published in one complete 1000-page volume. Philip Gabriel and Jay Rubin, two of Murakami’s main English translators worked on 1Q84 in tandem to speed up the release. Once thought to be alternative, Murakami is one of the most respected contemporary Japanese novelists and 1Q84 may well be his masterwork.
Narrated in turn by two major characters Aomame and Tengo whose link is at first unclear, the action takes place between April and December in a year that more or less is and isn’t 1984. Sound confusing? Yes, definitely! By day, Aomame is a fitness instructor with unique abilities and by night she is a contract killer targeting certain kinds of men. Tengo is a part-time mathematics teacher who dreams of being a full-time writer, although he has succeeded in ghostwriting a bestselling debut novel with a 17-year-old girl who spent her childhood in a religious cult.
Interestingly, the title 1Q84 puns on George Orwell’s dystopian classic 1984 yet it is also a phonetic play on the Japanese pronunciation of the number 9 (kyū) which is the same as the English pronunciation of the letter Q. Other literary works that are referred to include Anton Chekhov’s A Journey to Sakhalin, On the Beach by Nevil Shute, and Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, as well as classical composer Leoš Janáček, with his Sinfonietta playing a significant role in the narrative – as music does within all of Murakami’s work. Themes that Murakami has explored in the past inform much of the surreal world of 1Q84 – unrequited love, loners, family ties, bent realities and cults. 1Q84 will leave you scratching your head and wanting more.
Ingrid Josephine is marketing & events assistant at Readings.
1Q84 comprises all three volumes of the book and exceeds 1000 pages. We are doing the hardcover Australian edition for $39.95$29.95
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