A mesmerising, epic, utterly involving masterpiece from Haruki Murakami
The year is 1984. Aomame sits in a taxi on the expressway in Tokyo.
Her work is not the kind which can be discussed in public but she is in a hurry to carry out an assignment and, with the traffic at a stand-still, the driver proposes a solution. She agrees, but as a result of her actions starts to feel increasingly detached from the real world. She has been on a top-secret mission, and her next job will lead her to encounter the apparently superhuman founder of a religious cult.
Meanwhile, Tengo is leading a nondescript life but wishes to become a writer. He inadvertently becomes involved in a strange affair surrounding a literary prize to which a mysterious seventeen-year-old girl has submitted her remarkable first novel. It seems to be based on her own experiences and moves readers in unusual ways. Can her story really be true?
Aomame and Tengo’s stories influence one another, at times by accident and at times intentionally, as the two come closer and closer to intertwining. As 1Q84 accelerates towards its conclusion, both are pursued by persons and forces they do not know and cannot understand. As they begin to decipher more about the strange world into which they have slipped, so they sense their destinies converging. What they cannot know is whether they will find one another before they are themselves found.
1Q84 is a magnificent and fully-imagined work of fiction – a thriller, a love-story and a mind-bending ode to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is a world from which the reader emerges stunned and altered.
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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