1Q84: Book 3 Paperback – 2 Aug 2012
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"Murakami's magnum opus" (Japan Times)
"1Q84 has a range and sophistication that surpasses anything else in his oeuvre. It is his most achieved novel; an epic in which form and content are neatly aligned... So like Murakami himself, I'll borrow from Orwell: 1Q84 is quite simply doubleplusgood" (Independent on Sunday)
"1Q84 reads like a cross between Stieg Larsson and Roberto Bolaño... In its bones, this novel is a thriller" (Daily Telegraph)
"It is a work of maddening brilliance and gripping originality, deceptively casual in style, but vibrating with wit, intellect and ambition" (Richard Lloyd Parry The Times)
"Which other author can remind you simultaneously of Fyodor Dostoyevsky and JK Rowling, not merely within the same chapter but on the same page? Viewed through the "post-modern" lens, his exemplary blend of a light touch and weighty themes, of high literature and popular entertainment, ticks every box. Posh and pop, sublimity and superficiality, history and fantasy, trash and transcendence: they switch positions and then fuse" (Boyd Tonkin Independent)
About the Author
In 1978, Haruki Murakami was 29 and running a jazz bar in downtown Tokyo. One April day, the impulse to write a novel came to him suddenly while watching a baseball game. That first novel, Hear the Wind Sing, won a new writers’ award and was published the following year. More followed, including A Wild Sheep Chase and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, but it was Norwegian Wood, published in 1987, which turned Murakami from a writer into a phenomenon. His books became bestsellers, were translated into many languages, including English, and the door was thrown wide open to Murakami’s unique and addictive fictional universe.
Murakami writes with admirable discipline, producing ten pages a day, after which he runs ten kilometres (he began long-distance running in 1982 and has participated in numerous marathons and races), works on translations, and then reads, listens to records and cooks. His passions colour his non-fiction output, from What I Talk About When I Talk About Running to Absolutely On Music, and they also seep into his novels and short stories, providing quotidian moments in his otherwise freewheeling flights of imaginative inquiry. In works such as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, 1Q84 and Men Without Women, his distinctive blend of the mysterious and the everyday, of melancholy and humour, continues to enchant readers, ensuring Murakami’s place as one of the world’s most acclaimed and well-loved writers.
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Readers of different mindsets will enjoy varying aspects of this book. For me, the close bond of friendship between Aomame and Ayumi was a highlight - so poignantly described, as was Tengo's night out with the nurses working at his father's care home. Others might find the surrealistic nature of some of the plot more enriching than I did. I couldn't see the point of the Little Creatures, who were never properly explained (maybe that's Murakami's point - he describes a world that can only be half-described). Where the symbolism could be directly correlated to the narrative - the two moons rather obviously symbolising Tengo and Aomame and the two worlds they have inhabited - Murakami has handled them well. Other imagery is hit and miss.
The plot deals with some very serious issues - child abuse, religious cults, violence against women - but in typical Murakami style they are delivered with the same deft hand that describes a willowy cloud or a rain shower. That, I guess, explains why I was so surprised to see so many suicides in the movie version of "Norwegian Wood" - I had simply forgotten that these happened in the novel itself.
There is, without doubt, something mesmerising and very beautiful about Murakami's writing, and it is hard to resist feeling that you too are trying to navigate your way through the puzzling world of 1Q84 like Tengo and Aomame. But a novel of loose threads that remain untied at the end can be frustrating - after 1200 pages, I was left wishing there could have been a Book 4, sewing up the narrative conclusions that are so often intentionally withheld in the whimsical, lovely and sometimes frustrating writings of this brilliant author!
The main characters are beautifully crafted, and this draws the reader in; you have to know what happens to them. The loose structure is part of the Murakami signature style, so that should not be too much of a surprise.
The Rider Song