$39.95 – Hardback / Vintage / United Kingdom
1Q84: Books 1, 2 and 3
The Australian edition, exceeding 900 pages, comprises all three volumes of the book (which were published in Japan and the UK as separate books).
Read an early review of 1Q84 by friend of Readings and Melbournian Louis Bravos here
The 12th novel from Japanese master Haruki Murakami is a mesmerising, epic and utterly involving masterpiece.
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.
Reviews by members of our Uncorrected Proof Book Club
Review #1 by Jeanie Misko, Canning Vale, WA
I finished reading 1Q84 (surely the blockbuster novel of 2011) almost a week ago, but I wanted to collect my thoughts before I put fingers to keyboard. This is a novel (sounds trite, perhaps epic would be a better word) that remains with you for a long, long time after reading it. I’ve kept thinking about the story and how each event fits in the overall structure of the book, how clever and intricate the world created is and how I can picture in my head a world that doesn’t exist…or does it?
The ARC copy I read comprised of Books 1 and 2 (Book 3 will be published in the UK on 25th October 2011, I’m uncertain of an Australian release date). The sheer weight of the first two books (nearly 600 pages) will come as a delight to Murakami fans. For readers new to Murakami, it may take a little while to warm up to the picture that is being painted lovingly before you but persevere, the puzzle pieces soon fall into place. The book opens with Aomame (whose name means ‘green pea’, we never know her by any other name) in a taxi, stuck in a traffic jam in Tokyo in 1984. She is going to be late for her appointment when the taxi driver informs her of an emergency exit that will take her off the expressway back to ground level. He says a few odd things, but Aomame is not concerned about that. She takes his advice, goes down the stairs and off to her appointment – killing a man.
Meanwhile, Tengo is a young writer who is struggling to make a name for himself while teaching mathematics at a cram school. At a meeting with his somewhat mentor, he is asked to rewrite a novel written by a seventeen year old girl that has been submitted for a new writers’ prize. The novel, Air Chrysalis, is nothing like he’s ever read before. Neither is its author, Fuka-Eri, a strange girl who never uses a question mark in her speech.
Can you see the Murakami originality coming through? The cover pictured gives quite an insight into the main symbols of this book. I don’t want to spoil the story for others – it’s highly original and will keep you reading all through the night but be prepared for almost anything to happen: religious cults, strange sightings of the moon, an older woman out for revenge, missing persons, murder, love, sex and all sorts of people – from big to small.
Murakami must be lauded for his ability to think of such an intricate plot – almost every detail is leading you further into the story and almost nothing is there by chance. It all combines together later in the second book with exquisite tension before the explosion of the bittersweet ending. Be aware that there is a fair bit of sex in this book but I felt it was needed to show where the characters were coming from and where they were heading.
On finishing this book, I hardly dared to look up at the moon in case I was in 1Q84! Everything else I’ve read since has paled in comparison to 1Q84. I simply can’t recommend this book more highly – it’s a beautiful masterpiece.
Review #2 by Christena Singh, Melbourne, VIC
I can’t remember a novel I have enjoyed reading as much as 1Q84, and I don’t even know how it ends yet. I have little doubt though, that when I do read the final instalment, this will be without a doubt the most amazing novel I will have read this year. While it is a lengthy tome, don’t let its size put you off, such is the magic of Murakami’s writing that it is a hard book to put down, and leaves you wanting more.
Set in Japan in 1984, the novel alternates between the stories of Aomame and Tengo, and one of the strengths is that in this work Murakami has convincingly written from the female perspective as well as the male. While the circumstances the characters find themselves in have the quintessential Murakami strangeness, there would be few readers who would not be able to relate to at least some parts of the main characters.
From the opening pages, with the mysterious Janacek-playing taxi-driver telling Aomame that “things are not what they seem” as he drops her into the alternate world of 1Q84, the reader instinctively knows that no, things won’t be what they seem. It is a novel which leaves you questioning the nature of reality, making you question the times when you might have consciously or un-knowingly have made a decision that took you to a different world.
In 1Q84, Murakami draws you in, with cascading mysteries and questions, all interlinked. Drawing on his use of Chekov’s gun, which once brought into a story must be used, the reader also knows that every mystery Murakami brings into the story will end up forming an important part of the narrative. There is no padding here.
1Q84 is a work that can be confronting for readers, dealing with strong sexual and cult issues. From the outset the characters are confronted with moral challenges, whether it be Tengo’s involvement in a potential literary fraud, or Aomame’s skilful dispatching of selected problematic men to “the other side”. Whilst surreal and supernatural in parts, well most parts really, it is ultimately a love story, and we find ourselves desperately wanting to bring his characters together, and wondering how it will all end.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time so far in the world of 1Q84. And I definitely want more, eagerly awaiting the final instalment due for release later this year. And I have no doubt that when I do come to the end, where all is revealed or possibly not, I will be thinking that this is the best book I have read this year. I recommend reading while listening to Janacek’s Sinfonia, with a cup of green tea…
Christena Singh is from Melbourne, Victoria. You can follow her on twitter - @christenasingh
Review #3 by Jef Tan, South Yarra, VIC
The notion of true love made possible by a conspiracy of strange and unknown forces is not unfamiliar ground for Murakami, who earlier explored this same idea from a philosophical perspective in 'On Seeing The 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning' (from the short story collection The Elephant Vanishes): "What a wonderful thing it is," he writes, "to find and be found by your 100% perfect other; it's a miracle, a cosmic miracle." With 1Q84, Murakami conjures up this 'miracle', complete with wild and fantastical other-realities, spun through his signature all-kooky cast of characters.
Set in a weird parallel universe, 1Q84 is a journey of suspenseful twists sometimes disturbing turns with Murakami's endearing style of converging subplots gathering into a mad momentum as we race to the finish. Not since Dance, Dance, Dance and Kafka on the Shore have we seen more sinister villains and sexier heroines crossing paths with the writer's always solo underdog-hero. Many will find Murakami's fearsome three-book epic pushing a dangerous boundary with 1Q84 but I'd say this might well be his most romantic yet.
Jef Tan is from South Yarra. He blogs at sixoclock.posterous.com
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Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin
Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin