1Q84 [NOOK Book]

Overview

?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 ...
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1Q84

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Overview

“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.

This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

This international literary bestseller has sold millions of copies in Japan alone. One reviewer described it as "a complex and surreal narrative [which] shifts back and forth between tales of two characters, a man and a woman, who are searching for each other.

Sessalee Hensley

Michael Dirda
…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.
—The Washington Post
Kathryn Schulz
What makes Murakami's voice so distinctive, and so electrifying, is that this disorienting weirdness is counterbalanced by a lavish concern for the utterly mundane. When he's not exercising an imagination that lies somewhere due crazy of Tim Burton and L. Frank Baum, Murakami is the balladeer of the banal. He sings of traffic, toaster ovens, minimarts, spaghetti sauce…It's a credit to Murakami's mammoth talent that 1Q84, for all its flaws, got to me more than most decent books I've read this year, and lingered with me far longer: a paper moon, yes, but by a real star.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
The massive new novel from international sensation Murakami (What I Talk About When I Talk About Running) sold out in his native Japan, where it was released in three volumes, and is bound to provoke a similar reaction in America, where rabid fans are unlikely to be deterred by its near thousand-page bulk. Nor should they be; Murakami’s trademark plainspoken oddness is on full display in this story of lapsed childhood friends Aomame and Tengo, now lonely adults in 1984 Tokyo, whose destinies may be curiously intertwined. Aomame is a beautiful assassin working exclusively for a wealthy dowager who targets abusive men. Meanwhile Tengo, an unpublished writer and mathematics instructor at a cram school, accepts an offer to write a novel called Air Chrysalis based on a competition entry written by an enigmatic 17-year-old named Fuka-Eri. Fuka-Eri proves to be dangerously connected to the infamous Sakigake cult, whose agents are engaged in a bloody game of cat-and-mouse with Aomame. Even stranger is that two moons have appeared over Tokyo, the dawning of a parallel time line known as 1Q84 controlled by the all-powerful Little People. The condensing of three volumes into a single tome makes for some careless repetition, and casual readers may feel that what actually occurs doesn’t warrant such length. But Murakami’s fans know that his focus has always been on the quiet strangeness of life, the hidden connections between perfect strangers, and the power of the non sequitur to reveal the associative strands that weave our modern world. 1Q84 goes further than any Murakami novel so far, and perhaps further than any novel before it, toward exposing the delicacy of the membranes that separate love from chance encounters, the kind from the wicked, and reality from what people living in the pent-up modern world dream about when they go to sleep under an alien moon. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

“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.”
—Sam Anderson, The 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.”
—David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times
 
“Murakami is clearly one of the most popular and admired novelists in the world today, a brilliant practitioner of serious, yet irresistibly engaging, literary fantasy . . . 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, [his] novel is tightly plotted, without fat, and he knows how to make dialogue, even philosophical dialogue, exciting . . . Murakami’s novels have been translated into a score of languages, but it would be hard to imagine that any of them could be better than the English versions by Jay Rubin, partnered here with Philip ­Gabriel . . . 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
 
“Fascinating . . . A remarkable book in which outwardly simple sentences and situations snowball into a profound meditation on our own very real dystopian trappings . . . One of those rare novels that clearly depict who we are now and also offer tantalizing clues as to where literature may be headed . . . I’d be curious to know how Murakami’s yeoman translators Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel divided up the work . . . because there are no noticeable bumps in the pristine and deceptively simple prose . . . More than any author since Kafka, Murakami appreciates the genuine strangeness of our real world, and he’s not afraid to incorporate elements of surrealism or magical realism as tools to help us see ourselves for who we really are. 1Q84 is a tremendous accomplishment. It does every last blessed thing a masterpiece is supposed to—and a few things we never even knew to expect.”
—Andrew Ervin, The San Francisco Chronicle
 
“[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
 
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. Grade: A.”
—Rob Brunner, Entertainment Weekly
 
“A 932-page Japanese novel set in Tokyo in which the words ‘sushi’ and ‘sake’ never appear but there are mentions of linguine and French wine, as well as Proust, Faye Dunaway, The Golden Bough, Duke Ellington, Macbeth, Churchill, Janáèek, Sonny and Cher, and, give the teasing title, George Orwell? Welcome to the world of Haruki Murakami . . . A symmetrical and multi-layered yarn, as near to a 19th-century three-decker as it is possible to be . . . The label of fantasy-realism has been stuck to it, but it actually has more of a Dickensian or Trollopian structure . . . Explicit, yet subtle and dream-like, combining viciousness with whimsy . . . this is Murakami’s unflagging and masterful take on the desire and pursuit of the Whole.”
—Paul Theroux, Vanity Fair
 
“Do you miss the girl with the dragon tattoo? Do you long for the thrill of following her adventures again through three volumes of exciting, intelligent fiction? If so, I have good news for you. She’s got a sort of soul sister in one of the two main characters in Haruki Murakami’s wonderful novel 1Q84 . . . With more than enough narrative and intellectual heft to make it enjoyable for anyone with a taste for moving representations of modern consciousness in the magical realist mode, this story may easily carry you away to a new world and keep you there for a long time . . . The deep and resonant plot . . . unfolds at a leisurely pace but in compelling fashion by luring us along with scenes of homicidal intrigue, literary intrigue, religious fanaticism, physical sex, metaphysical sex and asexual sex. And music . . . Murakami’s main characters find themselves drawn toward each other as irresistibly, magnetically, hypnotically, soulfully and physically as any characters in Western fiction. Given the plain-spoken but appealing nature of the prose (translated by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel), most of you will feel that same power as an insinuating compulsion to read on, despite the enormous length, hoping against hope for a happy ending under a sky with either two moons or one. Two moons—two worlds—a girl with—900 pages—1Q84 is a gorgeous festival of words arranged for maximum comprehension and delicious satisfaction.”
—Alan Cheuse, NPR
 
“Murakami’s new novel is the international literary giant at his uncanny, mesmerizing best . . . The spell cast by Murakami’s fiction is formed in the tension between his grounded accounts of everyday life and the otherworldly forces that keep intruding on that life, propelling the characters into surreal adventures . . . Translation is at the center of what Murakami does; not a translation from one tongue to another, but the translation of an inner world into this, the outer one. Very few writers speak the truths of that secret, inner universe more fluently.”
—Laura Miller, Salon
 
“Bewitching and extraordinarily unsettling . . . Part noir crime drama, part love story, and part hallucinatory riff on 1984 . . . Murakami paces a story as well as any writer alive. He knows how to tell a love story without getting cute. He understands how to blend realism and fantasy (magical realism if you want to get all literary about it) in just the right proportions. And he has a knack for writing about everyday matters—fixing dinner, going for a walk—in such a way that the events at hand, no matter how mundane, are never boring . . . Most impressive, he knows how to inject the logic and atmosphere of dreams into his fiction without becoming coy or vague. He’s Kafka-esque to the extent that he’s not interested in why or how a man may have turned into an insect overnight, but in how the man deals with his new situation. And like Beckett, he furnishes his dreamscapes with a mere handful of carefully chosen props—a tree, a streetlight, a playground sliding board—specifics that ground a scene but leave room for the reader to fill in details. This is perhaps the key point: he makes you, the reader, his collaborator. What he leaves out is as important as what he includes, because it encourages you to fill in the blanks in the canvas . . . Murakami is one of the very few novelists—Dickens comes most easily to mind—who can make a serious, play-by-the-rules reader cheat and jump ahead to find out what’s happened to a character . . . Even while we are being entertained by the weirdness of the world he’s creating, we feel a gnawing anxiety that this same book is unraveling our own sense of normality. You don’t know where things are going while you read it, and you can’t say exactly where you’ve been when you’re finished, but everything around you looks different somehow. If this is fiction as funhouse, it is very serious fun, and you enter at the risk of your own complacency.”
—Malcolm Jones, Newsweek
 
“If you haven’t previously read Murakami . . . this is a good introduction to his Lewis-Carroll-meets-Mister-Rogers style, a distinctive blend of the wild and the ordinary that can be as engaging as Wonderland itself. If you’ve read his previous book, you’ll find a lot to enjoy here . . . 1Q84 has a big, romantic heart and deserves to be celebrated on our shores.”
—Josh Emmons, People (3.5/4 stars)
 
“[1Q84] gets off to a vintage Murakami start: eerie wrinkles in an otherwise ordinary Tokyo day. A woman stuck in traffic decides to get out and walk. A struggling novelist is roped into a shady writing project. But with every page, the ready edges closer to an Orwellian rabbit hole. And when the plunge comes, it brings all the trippy delights of Murakami’s unsettling imagination: a vanishing, a parallel world with two moons, and ‘Little People’ who make Big Brother look like an oaf.”
—Devin Gordon, GQ
 
“Voracious visionary Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 mixes down-the-rabbit-hole fantasy with out-there science fiction for a superhefty but accessible adventure.”
—Lisa Shea, Elle
 
“Powerful . . . In 1Q84, award-winning Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami skips between alternate worlds, offering readers a moving love story in what is perhaps his most ambitious novel yet . . . An unstoppably readable, deeply moving love story that cements Murakami’s reputation as a uniquely compassionate and imaginative novelist who’s among the leading voices of his global generation . . . Murakami likes to blur the boundaries of reality, and in this sense 1Q84 is his most intricate work . . . Aomame and Tengo work their way towards each other and out of the year 1Q84 like divers straining for the surface. Finishing the book I felt as if I, too, were coming to the surface; days later the world still does not feel the way it used to.”
—Kevin Hartnett, The Christian Science Monitor
 
1Q84 is extraordinarily ambitious . . . Beguiling and ridiculously entertaining . . . Murakami has created the big, beautiful book so many people have been waiting for. Before it even arrived in this country, 1Q84 was one of the most chattered-about titles of the fall. We got our hopes up—and he didn’t let us down.”
—Kevin Canfield, The Kansas City Star
 
“Murakami has created his genuine masterpiece, one that reaches out to fans while also satisfying the critics who have called for a more deft use of symbolism and literary worldliness in his work . . .  In this book, Murakami simplifies his familiar artistic elements, leaving us with a readable pair of intertwined stories that wind up on the same, enjoyable track. For readers willing to enter Murakami’s literary marathon, the outcome will be one to remember.”
—Jeremy C. Owens, San Jose Mercury News
 
“Lose yourself in the nearly 1,000 pages of Murakami’s alternately mesmerizing and menacing world, living for large stretches of each day with its characters, and time actually shifts and becomes harder to measure—one of the many themes, as it happens, in this big and brilliant book . . . It’s the quest for such shared experience, between writer and reader in the dream world they inhabit together, that explains why we read fiction—that magical carpet whisking us from the lonely prison of the self into the hearts and minds of others . . . It may not be easy traveling to another world; it’s often hard enough getting around in our own. But what is true for this novel’s determined protagonists will go double for its faithful readers: Take the time to get carried away, and time itself—as well as the way you think about how you spend yours—will take on new dimensions. It’s a mind-blowing experience. Great novels always are.”
—Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
 
“[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.”
—Lee Makela, Cleveland Plain Dealer
 
“Always intriguing . . . 1Q84 is a huge novel in every sense . . . putting it down is not an option . . . The reader who steps into its time flow only reluctantly comes ashore.”
—Sherryl Connelly, New York Daily News
 
1Q84 is a tremendous feat and a triumph . . . A must-read for anyone who wants to come to terms with contemporary Japanese culture.”
—Lindsay Howell, Baltimore Examiner
 
“Perhaps one of the most important works of science fiction of the year . . . 1Q84 does not disappoint . . . [It] envelops the reader in a shifting world of strange cults and peculiar characters that is surreal and entrancing.”
—Matt Staggs, Suvudu.com
 
“There’s no denying that Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 . . . is an impressive achievement, both for its already accomplished author and for the two separate translators who took on the not inconsequential task of translating the book from Murakami’s native Japanese into English. Equally impressive is the author’s facility at working in this long form—the story moves, it seems, effortlessly through hundreds of pages, and the reader, too, glides easily from page to page as if the book were a third of its length . . . What’s most remarkable about Murakami’s novel, however, is neither its prose style nor its accompanying emotional distance: it’s its scope. Most so-called doorstopper novels contain multitudes of characters, conflicts, decades, or even footnotes. 1Q84, at its heart, is primarily a story of two separated lovers. It takes place in a short time frame and in a single city, but it’s enriched by Murakami’s philosophical musings and his uniquely visionary form of fantasy.”
—Norah Piehl, BookReporter.com
 
“Murakami’s dystopian magnum opus . . . 1Q84 unfolds as a science-fiction thriller, and despite the pointed Orwellian reference, it is closer in spirit to the work of Philip K. Dick. Fantastic elements seamlessly integrate with the mundane to create a world much like, if not quite like, our own . . . The supporting cast . . . is lovingly lifted from classic pulp fiction archetypes, and roots the novel in the noir mystery genre as well. Pulp fiction, indeed, but on a grand scale—as ambitious, quirky and imaginative as only Murakami can be.”
—Robert Weibezahl, BookPage
 
“Murakami’s trademark plainspoken oddness is on full display in this story of lapsed childhood friends Aomame and Tengo, now lonely adults in 1984 Tokyo, whose destinies may be curiously intertwined . . . Murakami’s fans know that his focus has always been on the quiet strangeness of life, the hidden connections between perfect strangers, and the power of the non sequitur to reveal the associative strands that weave our modern world. 1Q84 goes further than any Murakami novel so far, and perhaps further than any novel before it, toward exposing the delicacy of the membranes that separate love from chance encounters, the kind from the wicked, and reality from what people living in the pent-up modern world dream about when they go to sleep under an alien moon.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“Unquestionably Murakami’s most vividly imagined parallel world . . . Gradually but inexorably, the tension builds, as we root passionately for Tengo and Aomame to find one another and hold hands again, so simple a human connection offering a kind of oasis in the midst of the unexplainable and the terrifying. When Murakami melds fantasy and realism, mystery and epic, it is no simple genre-bending exercise; rather, it is literary alchemy of the highest order.”
—Bill Ott, Booklist (starred review)
 
“Ambitious, sprawling and thoroughly stunning . . . Orwellian dystopia, sci-fi, the modern world (terrorism, drugs, apathy, pop novels)—all blend in this dreamlike, strange and wholly unforgettable epic.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“At the core of this work is a spectacular love story about a girl and a boy who briefly held hands when they were both ten. That said, with the fiercely imaginative Murakami as author, the story’s exposition is gloriously labyrinthine . . . Originally published in Japan as three volumes, each of which were instant best sellers, this work—perhaps Murakami’s finest—will surely have the same success in its breathlessly anticipated all-in-one English translation. Murakami aficionados will delight in recognizing traces of earlier titles, especially A Wild Sheep Chase, Norwegian Wood, and even Underground.
—Terry Hong, Library Journal (starred review)

Library Journal
At the core of this work is a spectacular love story about a girl and boy who briefly held hands when they were both ten. That said, with the fiercely imaginative Murakami as author, the story's exposition is gloriously labyrinthine: welcome "into this enigma-filled world of 1Q84," which begins when sports club instructor Aomame exits a taxi and climbs down emergency stairs to bypass gridlocked traffic and make her next appointment. Meanwhile, cram school teacher and wannabe novelist Tengo is in muddled negotiations to rewrite secretly a 17-year-old girl's fascinating but still raw novella, which has the potential to win a top literary prize. A Chekhov-quoting, Proust-sharing ethnic Korean bodyguard; a wealthy widow who shelters abused women; a policewoman with a penchant for wild, anonymous sex; a religious leader who admits to "congress" with prepubescent girls; a comatose father with a traveling spirit; a misshapen, disbarred ex-lawyer—these are just some of Murakami's signature characters who both hinder and help Aomame and Tengo's hopeful path toward reunion. VERDICT Originally published in Japan as three volumes, each of which were instant best sellers, this work—perhaps Murakami's finest—will surely have the same success in its breathlessly anticipated, all-in-one English translation. Murakami aficionados will delight in recognizing traces of earlier titles, especially A Wild Sheep Chase, Norwegian Wood, and even Underground.—Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC
Kirkus Reviews

"Things are not what they seem." If Murakami's (After Dark, 2008, etc.) ambitious, sprawling and thoroughly stunning new novel had a tagline, that would be it.

Things are not what they seem, indeed. A cab driver tells a protagonist named Aomame—her name means "green beans"—as much, instructing her on doing something that she has never done before and would perhaps never dream of doing, even if she had known the particulars of how to do it: namely, to descend from an endless traffic jam on an elevated expressway by means of a partially hidden service staircase. Aomame is game: She's tough, with strong legs, and she doesn't mind if the assembled motorists of Tokyo catch a glimpse of what's under her skirt as she drops into the rabbit hole. Meanwhile, there's the case of Tengo, a math teacher who, like Aomame, is 30 years old in 1984; dulled even as Japan thrives in its go-go years, he would seem to have almost no ambition, glad to serve as the ghostwriter for a teenage girl's torrid novel that will soon become a bestseller—and just as soon disappear. The alternate-universe Tokyo in which Aomame reappears (her first tipoff that it's not the "real" Tokyo the fact that the cops are carrying different guns and wearing slightly different uniforms), which she comes to call 1Q84, theqfor question mark, proves fertile ground for all manner of crimes, major and minor, in which she involves herself. Can she ever click her heels and get back home? Perhaps not, for, as she grimly concludes at one point in her quest, "The door to this world only opened in one direction." It's only a matter of time before Aomame's story becomes entangled in Tengo's—in this strange universe, everyone sleeps with everyone—and she becomes the object of his own hero quest; as he says, "Before the world's rules loosen up too much...and all logic is lost, I have to find Aomame." Will he? Stay tuned.

Orwellian dystopia, sci-fi, the modern world (terrorism, drugs, apathy, pop novels)—all blend in this dreamlike, strange and wholly unforgettable epic.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307957023
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/25/2011
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 944
  • Sales rank: 15,350
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into more than fifty 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.


From the Hardcover edition.

Biography

The The story of how Haruki Murakami decided to become a novelist says a lot about his work, because it is as strange and culturally diffuse as the works he writes. While watching a baseball game in Toyko in 1978 between the Yakult Swallows and the Hiroshima Carp, Murakami witnessed an American hit a double. At the crack of the bat, Murakami -- who had never had any ambition to write because he assumed he didn't have the talent -- decided that he should begin a novel. He then started his first book, in the night hours after work.

If you're waiting for a connection between the double and the epiphany, there isn't one. It's often that way in Murakami's fiction, where cultures blend and seemingly incongruous, inexplicable events move the story forward. People disappear or transform as quickly as the worlds around them, and the result is a dreamlike atmosphere that blends mystery, magic realism and sci-fi while remaining unmistakably distinct from all three.

Murakami was brought up in a suburb of Kobe by parents who were teachers of Japanese literature; but the literature of his parents did not interest him and he read mostly American authors, listened to American jazz and watched American shows. For this reason, though his books are set in Japan and originally written in Japanese, they do not seem terribly foreign to English speakers. South of the Border, West of the Sun's title derives from a Nat King Cole song; and you're as likely to find a reference to McDonald's, Cutty Sark or F. Scott Fitzgerald as you are to anything Japanese.

Murakami began his career with the coming-of-age novels Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball 1973, but he hit his stride with A Wild Sheep Chase, a novel about a twentysomething ad executive who is drawn into the quest for an elusive, mutant sheep. The novel appeared in the U.S. seven years after its 1982 publication, introducing American audiences to this unclassifiable author. It contained many of the traits that mark Murakami's novels: a solitary male protagonist who drifts just outside society; first-person narration; and philosophical passages nestled within outlandish, unconventional plots. An admiring New York Times Book Review called Murakami a "mythmaker for the millennium."

The author's commercial breakthrough in Japan had come with the publication of Norwegian Wood in 1987, which sold two million copies. The story of a man who becomes involved with his best friend's girlfriend after the friend's suicide, it stands alone as the author's most straightforward, realistic work. Murakami acknowledges the book's impact on his career, and stands behind it; but he is also aware that it represented a departure from the surreal books that had made him a "cult" author with a modest following. "After Norwegian Wood, I have not written any purely realistic novels," Murakami said in a 2001 publisher's interview, "and have no intention of writing any more at this time."

Murakami's return to surrealism with Dance Dance Dance (the sequel to A Wild Sheep Chase), however, did not slow his career growth. Further translations of his work and publication of his stories in the New Yorker assured a growing following in the States, where his best known (and, to some, his best) work is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which appeared here in 1997. It's a masterful work that draws together all of the themes Murakami had been exploring in his fiction up until then: modern ennui, the unpredictability of relationships, a haunting backdrop of Japanese history.

In addition to his sublime and profoundly strange short stories and novels (Sputnik Sweetheart; Kafka on the Shore; Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, etc.), Murakami has made occasional forays into nonfiction -- most notably with Underground, a compilation of interviews with victims of the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, and his 2008 memoir of the New York City Marathon, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. He has also translated several works by American authors into Japanese, including title by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Carver, and John Irving.

Good To Know

Murakami owned a small jazz bar in Tokyo for seven years after college, an experience that he enjoyed and called upon when creating the main character of South of the Border, West of the Sun, who also owns a Tokyo jazz bar.

Murakami's first three novels, -- Hear the Wind Sing, Pinball 1973, and A Wild Sheep Chase -- comprise The Trilogy of the Rat.

His most often cited influences are Raymond Chandler, Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan.

Murakami told an interviewer from Publishers Weekly in 1991 that he considers his first two novels, Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball 1973 "weak," and was not eager to have them translated into English. The translations were published, but are not available in the U.S. Third novel A Wild Sheep Chase was "the first book where I could feel a kind of sensation, the joy of telling a story. When you read a good story, you just keep reading. When I write a good story, I just keep writing."

Daniel Handler, aka children's author Lemony Snicket, is a vocal fan of Murakami's who once wrote a review/paean to the author in the Village Voice entitled "I Love Murakami." "Haruki Murakami is our greatest living practitioner of fiction," he wrote. "....The novels aren't afraid to pull tricks usually banned from serious fiction: They are suspenseful, corny, spooky, and hilarious; they're airplane reading, but when you're through you spend the rest of the flight, the rest of the month, rethinking life."

Murakami has taught at Princeton University, where he wrote most of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and Tufts University. The twin disasters of a gas attack on the Tokyo subway and the Kobe earthquake in 1995 drew the author back to Japan from the United States.

Read More Show Less
    1. Hometown:
      Tokyo, Japan
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 12, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Kyoto, Japan
    1. Education:
      Waseda University, 1973
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Aomame

Don't Let Appearances Fool You

The taxi's radio was tuned to a classical FM broadcast. Janácek's Sinfonietta-probably not the ideal music to hear in a taxi caught in traffic. The middle-aged driver didn't seem to be listening very closely, either. With his mouth clamped shut, he stared straight ahead at the endless line of cars stretching out on the elevated expressway, like a veteran fisherman standing in the bow of his boat, reading the ominous confluence of two currents. Aomame settled into the broad back seat, closed her eyes, and listened to the music.

How many people could recognize Janácek's Sinfonietta after hearing just the first few bars? Probably somewhere between "very few" and "almost none." But for some reason, Aomame was one of the few who could.

Janácek composed his little symphony in 1926. He originally wrote the opening as a fanfare for a gymnastics festival. Aomame imagined 1926 Czechoslovakia: The First World War had ended, and the country was freed from the long rule of the Hapsburg Dynasty. As they enjoyed the peaceful respite visiting central Europe, people drank Pilsner beer in cafés and manufactured handsome light machine guns. Two years earlier, in utter obscurity, Franz Kafka had left the world behind. Soon Hitler would come out of nowhere and gobble up this beautiful little country in the blink of an eye, but at the time no one knew what hardships lay in store for them. This may be the most important proposition revealed by history: "At the time, no one knew what was coming." Listening to Janácek's music, Aomame imagined the carefree winds sweeping across the plains of Bohemia and thought about the vicissitudes of history.

In 1926 Japan's Taisho Emperor died, and the era name was changed to Showa. It was the beginning of a terrible, dark time in this country, too. The short interlude of modernism and democracy was ending, giving way to fascism.

Aomame loved history as much as she loved sports. She rarely read fiction, but history books could keep her occupied for hours. What she liked about history was the way all its facts were linked with particular dates and places. She did not find it especially difficult to remember historical dates. Even if she did not learn them by rote memorization, once she grasped the relationship of an event to its time and to the events preceding and following it, the date would come to her automatically. In both middle school and high school, she had always gotten the top grade on history exams. It puzzled her to hear someone say he had trouble learning dates. How could something so simple be a problem for anyone?

"Aomame" was her real name. Her grandfather on her father's side came from some little mountain town or village in Fukushima Prefecture, where there were supposedly a number of people who bore the name, written with exactly the same characters as the word for "green peas" and pronounced with the same four syllables, "Ah-oh-mah-meh." She had never been to the place, however. Her father had cut his ties with his family before her birth, just as her mother had done with her own family, so she had never met any of her grandparents. She didn't travel much, but on those rare occasions when she stayed in an unfamiliar city or town, she would always open the hotel's phone book to see if there were any Aomames in the area. She had never found a single one, and whenever she tried and failed, she felt like a lonely castaway on the open sea.

Telling people her name was always a bother. As soon as the name left her lips, the other person looked puzzled or confused.

"Miss Aomame?"

"Yes. Just like 'green peas.'"

Employers required her to have business cards printed, which only made things worse. People would stare at the card as if she had thrust a letter at them bearing bad news. When she announced her name on the telephone, she would often hear suppressed laughter. In waiting rooms at the doctor's or at public offices, people would look up at the sound of her name, curious to see what someone called "Green Peas" could look like.

Some people would get the name of the plant wrong and call her "Eda- mame" or "Soramame," whereupon she would gently correct them: "No, I'm not soybeans or fava beans, just green peas. Pretty close, though. Aomame." How many times in her thirty years had she heard the same remarks, the same feeble jokes about her name? My life might have been totally different if I hadn't been born with this name. If I had had an ordinary name like Sato or Tanaka or Suzuki, I could have lived a slightly more relaxed life or looked at people with somewhat more forgiving eyes. Perhaps.

Eyes closed, Aomame listened to the music, allowing the lovely unison of the brasses to sink into her brain. Just then it occurred to her that the sound quality was too good for a radio in a taxicab. Despite the rather low volume at which it was playing, the sound had true depth, and the overtones were clearly audible. She opened her eyes and leaned forward to study the dashboard stereo. The jet-black device shone with a proud gloss. She couldn't make out its brand name, but it was obviously high end, with lots of knobs and switches, the green numerals of the station readout clear against the black panel. This was not the kind of stereo you expected to see in an ordinary fleet cab.

She looked around at the cab's interior. She had been too absorbed in her own thoughts to notice until now, but this was no ordinary taxi. The high quality of the trim was evident, and the seat was especially comfortable. Above all, it was quiet. The car probably had extra sound insulation to keep noise out, like a soundproofed music studio. The driver probably owned his own cab. Many such owner-drivers would spare no expense on the upkeep of their automobiles. Moving only her eyes, Aomame searched for the driver's registration card, without success. This did not seem to be an illegal unlicensed cab, though. It had a standard taxi meter, which was ticking off the proper fare. 2,150 yen so far. Still, the registration card showing the driver's name was nowhere to be found.

"What a nice car," Aomame said, speaking to the driver's back. "So quiet. What kind is it?"

"Toyota Crown Royal Saloon," the driver replied succinctly.

"The music sounds great in here."

"It's a very quiet car. That's one reason I chose it. Toyota has some of the best sound-insulating technology in the world."

Aomame nodded and leaned back in her seat. There was something about the driver's way of speaking that bothered her, as though he were leaving something important unsaid. For example (and this is just one example), his remark on Toyota's impeccable sound insulation might be taken to mean that some other Toyota feature was less than impeccable. And each time he finished a sentence, there was a tiny but meaningful lump of silence left behind. This lump floated there, enclosed in the car's restricted space like an imaginary miniature cloud, giving Aomame a strangely unsettled feeling.

"It certainly is a quiet car," Aomame declared, as if to sweep the little cloud away. "And the stereo looks especially fine."

"Decisiveness was key when I bought it," the driver said, like a retired staff officer explaining a past military success. "I have to spend so much time in here, I want the best sound available. And-"

Aomame waited for what was to follow, but nothing followed. She closed her eyes again and concentrated on the music. She knew nothing about Janácek as a person, but she was quite sure that he never imagined that in 1984 someone would be listening to his composition in a hushed Toyota Crown Royal Saloon on the gridlocked elevated Metropolitan Expressway in Tokyo.

Why, though, Aomame wondered, had she instantly recognized the piece to be Janácek's Sinfonietta? And how did she know it had been composed in 1926? She was not a classical music fan, and she had no personal recollections involving Janácek, yet the moment she heard the opening bars, all her knowledge of the piece came to her by reflex, like a flock of birds swooping through an open window. The music gave her an odd, wrenching kind of feeling. There was no pain or unpleasantness involved, just a sensation that all the elements of her body were being physically wrung out. Aomame had no idea what was going on. Could Sinfonietta actually be giving me this weird feeling?

"Janácek," Aomame said half-consciously, though after the word emerged from her lips, she wanted to take it back.

"What's that, ma'am?"

"Janácek. The man who wrote this music."

"Never heard of him."

"Czech composer."

"-Well-well," the driver said, seemingly impressed.

"Do you own this cab?" Aomame asked, hoping to change the subject.

"I do," the driver answered. After a brief pause, he added, "It's all mine. My second one."

"Very comfortable seats."

"Thank you, ma'am." Turning his head slightly in her direction, he asked, "By the way, are you in a hurry?"

"I have to meet someone in Shibuya. That's why I asked you to take the expressway."

"What time is your meeting?"

"Four thirty," Aomame said.

"Well, it's already three forty-five. You'll never make it."

"Is the backup that bad?"

"Looks like a major accident up ahead. This is no ordinary traffic jam. We've hardly moved for quite a while."

She wondered why the driver was not listening to traffic reports. The expressway had been brought to a standstill. He should be listening to updates on the taxi drivers' special radio station.

"You can tell it's an accident without hearing a traffic report?" Aomame asked.

"You can't trust them," he said with a hollow ring to his voice. "They're half lies. The Expressway Corporation only releases reports that suit its agenda. If you really want to know what's happening here and now, you've got to use your own eyes and your own judgment."

"And your judgment tells you that we'll be stuck here?"

"For quite a while," the driver said with a nod. "I can guarantee you that. When it backs up solid like this, the expressway is sheer hell. Is your meeting an important one?"

Aomame gave it some thought. "Yes, very. I have to see a client."

"That's a shame. You're probably not going to make it."

The driver shook his head a few times as if trying to ease a stiff neck. The wrinkles on the back of his neck moved like some kind of ancient creature. Half-consciously watching the movement, Aomame found herself thinking of the sharp object in the bottom of her shoulder bag. A touch of sweat came to her palms.

"What do you think I should do?" she asked.

"There's nothing you can do up here on the expressway--not until we get to the next exit. If we were down on the city streets, you could just step out of the cab and take the subway."

"What is the next exit?"

"Ikejiri. We might not get there before the sun goes down, though."

Before the sun goes down? Aomame imagined herself locked in this cab until sunset. The Janácek was still playing. Muted strings came to the foreground as if to soothe her heightened anxiety. That earlier wrenching sensation had largely subsided. What could that have been?

Aomame had caught the cab near Kinuta and told the driver to take the elevated expressway from Yohga. The flow of traffic had been smooth at first, but suddenly backed up just before Sangenjaya, after which they had hardly moved. The outbound lanes were moving fine. Only the side headed toward downtown Tokyo was tragically jammed. Inbound Expressway Number 3 would not normally back up at three in the afternoon, which was why Aomame had directed the driver to take it.

"Time charges don't add up on the expressway," the driver said, speaking toward his rearview mirror. "So don't let the fare worry you. I suppose you need to get to your meeting, though?"

"Yes, of course. But there's nothing I can do about it, is there?"

He glanced at her in the mirror. He was wearing pale sunglasses. The way the light was shining in, Aomame could not make out his expression.

"Well, in fact, there might be a way. You could take the subway to Shibuya from here, but you'd have to do something a little...extreme."

"Something extreme?"

"It's not something I can openly advise you to do."

Aomame said nothing. She waited for more with narrowed eyes.

"Look over there. See that turnout just ahead?" he asked, pointing. "See? Near that Esso sign."

Aomame strained to see through the windshield until she focused on a space to the left of the two-lane roadway where broken-down cars could pull off. The elevated roadway had no shoulder but instead had emergency turnouts at regular intervals. Aomame saw that the turnout was outfitted with a yellow emergency phone box for contacting the Metropolitan Expressway Public Corporation office. The turnout itself was empty at the moment. On top of a building beyond the oncoming lanes there was a big billboard advertising Esso gasoline with a smiling tiger holding a gas hose.

"To tell you the truth, there's a stairway leading from the turnout down to street level. It's for drivers who have to abandon their cars in a fire or earthquake and climb down to the street. Usually only maintenance workers use it. If you were to climb down that stairway, you'd be near a Tokyu Line station. From there, it's nothing to Shibuya."

"I had no idea these Metropolitan Expressways had emergency stairs," Aomame said.

"Not many people do."

"But wouldn't I get in trouble using it without permission when there's no real emergency?"

The driver paused a moment. Then he said, "I wonder. I don't know all the rules of the Corporation, but you wouldn't be hurting anybody. They'd probably look the other way, don't you think? Anyway, they don't have people watching every exit. The Metropolitan Expressway Public Corporation is famous for having a huge staff but nobody really doing any work."

"What kind of stairway is it?"

"Hmm, kind of like a fire escape. You know, like the ones you see on the backs of old buildings. It's not especially dangerous or anything. It's maybe three stories high, and you just climb down. There's a barrier at the opening, but it's not very high. Anybody who wanted to could get over it easily."

"Have you ever used one of these stairways?"

Instead of replying, the driver directed a faint smile toward his rearview mirror, a smile that could be read any number of ways.


From the Hardcover edition.
Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

1. 1Q84 is a vast and intricate novel. What are the pleasures of reading such a long work, of staying with the same characters over such a long period of time?

2. Murakami has said he is a fan of the mystery writer Elmore Leonard. What elements of the mystery genre does 1Q84 employ? How does Murakami keep readers guessing about what will happen next? What are some of the book’s most surprising moments?

3. Why would Murakami choose to set his story in 1984, the year that would serve as the title for George Orwell’s famous novel about the dangers of Big Brother?

4. The taxi driver in Chapter 1 warns Aomame that things are not what they seem, but he also tells her: “Don’t let appearances fool you. There’s always only one reality” (p. 9). Does this statement hold true throughout the novel? Is there only one reality, despite what appears to be a second reality that Aomame and Tengo enter?

5. Aomame tells Ayumi: “We think we’re choosing things for ourselves, but in fact we may not be choosing anything. It could be that everything's decided in advance and we pretend we’re making choices. Free will may be an illusion” (p. 192). Do the events in the novel seem fated or do the characters have free will?

6. When Tamaru bids goodbye to Aomame, he says: “If you do go somewhere far away and I never see you again, I know I’ll feel a little sad. You’re a rare sort of character, a type I’ve seldom come across before” (p. 885). What type of person is Aomame? What qualities make her extraordinary?

7. The dowager insists, and Aomame agrees, that the killing they do is completely justified, that the men whom they kill deserve to die, that the legal system can’t touch them, and that more women will be victims if these men aren’t stopped. Is it true that Aomame and the dowager have done nothing wrong? Or are they simply rationalizing their anger and the desire for vengeance that arises from their own personal histories?

8. Tengo realizes that rewriting Air Chrysalis is highly unethical and that Komatsu is asking him to participate in a scam that will very likely cause them both a great deal of trouble. Why does he agree to do it?

9. How does rewriting Air Chrysalis change Tengo as a writer? How does it affect the course of his life?

10. How do the events that occur on the night of the huge thunderstorm alter the fates of Aomame, Tengo, Fuka-Eri, and the dowager? Why do Aomame and the dowager let go of their anger after the storm?

11. At first, Ushikawa is a creepy, totally unlikable character. How does Murakami make him more sympathetic as the novel progresses? How do you respond to his death?

12. Near the end of the novel, Aomame declares: “From now on, things will be different. Nobody else’s will is going to control me anymore. From now on, I’m going to do things based on one principle alone: my own will” (p. 885). How does Aomame arrive at such a firm resolve? In what ways is the novel about overcoming the feeling of powerlessness that at various times paralyzes Aomame, Ayumi, Tengo, Fuka-Eri, and all the women who are abused by their husbands? What enables Aomame to come into her own power?

13. What does the novel as a whole seem to say about fringe religious groups? How does growing up in the Society of Witnesses affect Aomame? How does growing up in Sakigake cult affect Fuka-Eri? Does Leader appear to be a true spiritual master?

14. What is the appeal of the fantastic elements in the novel—the little people, maza and dohta, the air chrysalis, two moons in the sky, alternate worlds, etc.? What do they add to the story? In what ways does the novel question the nature of reality and the boundaries between what is possible and not possible?

15. What makes the love story of Tengo and Aomame so compelling? What obstacles must they overcome to be together? Why was the moment when Aomame grasped Tengo’s hand in grade school so significant?

16. In what ways does 1Q84 question and complicate conventional ideas of authorship? How does it blur the line between fictional reality and ordinary reality?

17. References to the song “Paper Moon” appear several times in the novel. How do those lyrics relate to 1Q84?

18. What role does belief play in the novel? Why does Murakami end the book with the image of Tengo and Aomame gazing at the moon until it becomes “nothing more than a gray paper moon, hanging in the sky” (p. 925)?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 320 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(153)

4 Star

(86)

3 Star

(31)

2 Star

(17)

1 Star

(33)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 320 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2011

    Amazing novel, but not for first timers.

    I've read almost all of Murakami's fiction (short stories & novels), and after all the waiting around I can say without a doubt that this novel exceeded my expectations. It looks huge, but it's hard to put down.

    If you've never read Murakami before though, I would say to start with one of his shorter novels. It's definitely more for those who are familiar with his style already.

    21 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 28, 2011

    Murakami's epic exploration of what reality is

    I read probably 800 of the 1,000+ pages of this book in the last few days. My brain hurts.

    Let's say 3 1/2 stars. The first two books are powerful; you can't stop reading them. The third book is a bit more of a slog (although I think I found it far less so than my esteemed colleagues in our book club). It suffers from, among other things, having been released as a trilogy originally in Japan but as one giant book in North America; book 3 is thus an awful lot of repetition and an awful lot of slogging through, sometimes, even the same words as the first two books.

    Mechanics aside, it's a fascinating story. The protagonists are drawn into a slightly alternate reality--at least, they think they are--and the book becomes an exploration of what's real and what isn't, even how time works (and doesn't).

    It isn't perfect. It's really long, and often feels like it didn't need to be. It gets repetitive. Often times, all but one of the viewpoint characters end up in less than interesting situations, and you push through those chapters longing for the story to continue again.

    But in the end, it all felt worth it, because the story was worth it. Even if my head hurts.

    20 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 23, 2011

    Murakami is a genius

    I previously had only read short stories by Haruki Murakami, so reading him in this longer form was amazing. Some authors can't seem to go between short and long forms so I had some trepidation. But this is beautifully surreal while still keeping his wonderful economy of language. (Which may also be a tribute toward the translators.) I loved every page and can heartily recommend it.

    20 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2012

    Interesting, but hardly "intricately plotted"

    Before reading this I scanned some reviews that described the work as an intricately plotted masterpiece. I should confess that I am brand new to Murakami Haruki.

    I enjoyed the book. However, it does not need to be 1,040 pages long--its length is not due to any sort of an intricate plot. The plot is no more complex than that of a typical Robert B. Parker novel, in my opinion. The length is due to copious description of everything from putting a record on a turntable to the clothing/appearance of various characters. Interestingly, in the book the editor makes a point to Tengo that in writing, what is important is to clearly and carefully describe what the reader has never experienced, and to spend less time describing what the reader knows well. I think this is interestingly because Murakami himself flagrantly violates this "rule" (of course, it is not his own rule, clearly, but that of one of his fictional characters).

    Anyway, I did enjoy the book. I lived in Japan for a while, so particularly enjoyed Japanese aspects and familiar (to me) settings used in the book. I appreciated his specificity of location. It is rare for me to read a book that is set in a place I know well, so that was fun for me.

    If you want a good mystery, read The Beekeeper's Apprentice instead!

    I don't think I will seek out further reading material by this author, however ...

    14 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2011

    Not a fan

    Murakami appears to have a rather large fan base but I was less than thrilled with 1Q84. This tome could have been edited down to 500 pages without losing any of the story line, which was rather interesting. I couldn't wait to finish, only because I couldn't wait to finish.

    14 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    This is an omnibus translation of a powerful epic trilogy

    Thirty year old Aomame caught the cab in Kuta heading inbound towards Tokyo. However, an accident shuts down the expressway. The cabby suggests Aomame whose name means green peas to try something different. Bored the passenger agrees; she leaves the taxi stuck on the elevated highway traffic jam to walk down stairs into a rabbit hole.

    Thirty tears old Tengo the bored math teacher is the ghostwriter for teenage girl Fuka-Eri's bestseller Air Chrysalis. He too disappears.

    Aomame realizes she is not in her Tokyo as the cops are uniformed and supplied with different guns; she calls her new land 1Q84. Though she wonders how to go home, an animated Aomame becomes involved in criminal activity. Meanwhile Tengo obsesses on a quest to find his childhood friend Aomame before the rules that she apparently is shattering in this Tokyo turns into pandemic chaos while the Sakigake cult hunt for this infamous female.

    This is an omnibus translation of a powerful epic trilogy as Haruki Murakami explores the degrees of connection and separation between people within an Alice-Orwellian Tokyo. The story line is fascinating as the plot purposely meanders as it mirrors relationships. Still readers will enjoy Tengo's quest to save Aomame from her becoming the trend setter on her 1Q84 world.

    Harriet Klausner

    13 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    Meh

    I kept waiting to be surprised; something to tie the ends together. In the final pages, I had downgraded my hopes: some clever twist to banish the thought that I¿d wasted so much time reading this tome with the plot of a shampoo bottle. Nope. I could summarize the story in a few paragraphs sufficiently and not give the ending away; because nothing happens. The book just ends and you get your life back.

    11 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    If you enjoy repetition, this is the book for you!

    I'm about 2/3 of the way through this book, and I feel like I've been reading it all my life. Is it worth it? I don't know yet. 1/6/2012 update: No, it wasn't worth it. I realize that I am in the minority here, but in my humble opinion, this book is highly overrated. I felt like I was reading the same passages, over and over and over. I got so sick of reading redundant descriptions of the two moons that I wanted to just toss the book. Unfortunately, my 'book' is a Nook, so I wasn't about to toss it. But getting back to the book, if I had to come up with one word to describe it, it would be 'repetitive'. The plot, as it was, just dragged on and on and on. With respect to characters, the only one I could sympathize with at all was Tengo, but not enough to really care whether he and Aomame got reunited. I'm not sure why I continued reading this book, except that I kept hoping it would surely have some fantastic ending that made it all worth it. Not!
    I should say that this is my first Murakami book, and other readers warned against that. But I soldiered on. If it were not for other reviews I've read, this would be my first and last Murakami. But there are other reviewers who are Murakami fans who were disappointed in this particular book and recommended others. So Because of some of those reviews, I may try him again. I'm just not up to it right now.
    This book might make a good book club selection, because readers seem to have extreme views of it one way or another, but my guess is that some readers would not finish it. I'm not sure why I did.

    9 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    great!

    ill be honest and say i ofcourse am not complete with this novel yet but so far it is very similar to his other works yet some say it is the great culmination of all of his ideas. it is interesting that he incorporates classical music alot in his novels, as well as michael jacksons songs "billy jean". its almost as if all of his books are within the same universe but each new one is a different episode. makes for a unique and compellingly entertaining experience.

    8 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Unbelievable imagination!

    This author is something else to have come up with such an extreme and complicated world. This has it all, love, romance, excitement, suspense, wonderment....This will not disappoint with many surprises and questions to find the answers to. Wow!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2012

    Worst book I've ever read

    I purchased the book because of the exerpt in the New Yorker and the high reviews. My high expectations dwindled quickly. I wondered if something had been lost in translation or if the awkward, unpolished style was supposed to mirror the young novelist's story in the novel.
    Some of my complaints:
    Shouldn't a writer show instead of tell?
    Do we really need to read about the person dressed in green, pouring green tea, from a green pot, in a green room, looking at the green plants.....throughout the book.....to understand that the color is supposed to be ( heavy handed) obvious symbolism?
    How can the book write about editing and not apply it to itself! 1000+ pages really!
    Was the contradictory description of the charcters intentional?

    The only reason I finished it was to see if there was something I was missing.....nope, just some if my life wasted. Wish I could get my money back on this one.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 24, 2011

    Very interesting and entertaining book

    I've read only the first 150 pages, but already feel this is one of the best works of fiction I've read. The book starts off fast to take your interest, multiple story lines are developed in parallel and they are presented in a way that holds your interest. I think that most people reading this book will categorize it as a "page turner". I am looking forward to seeing how the story lines converge and resolving the mystery surrounding hints that some sort of time shift has occurred for the female character Aomame (which means "green beans").

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2012

    Waste of time

    The book creates very vivid imagery. If there had been any attention given to the economy of words it could have been a magnificent book. But unfortunately, it only gets redundant. As it changes from one character to the next you begin to skim the pages because the author only repeats the exact same moments and conversations from the other point of view only to arrive at the very same conclusions that were previously drawn. That said, I held out till the end of the book, there was no point. Just read the review in the ny times it sums it up very nicely wihout the need of ever having to read the 1,000 pages.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2012

    900 Empty Pages

    A book of this length should reward you with more than a simple love story and strange settings. Mental chewing gum. Bloated and in need of a good editor. Spend your time reading Proust or Orwell not 1Q84.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2012

    about 800 pages too long.

    All the conflict and most of the plot points never really went anywhere. The fantasy elements added very little to the narrative.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2012

    The action starts on page 1000

    I'm not sure why this book has recieved great reviews? Reading it you think there will be action any moment but nothing really happens until page 1,000 out of 1,050. There are plots that randomly start and then go absolutely nowhere and are never explained. This could have easily been short story and less than 100 pages.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    What is Reality?

    1Q84 by Haruki Murakami is a fic­tional novel which takes place between two worlds. The book was orig­i­nally writ­ten in Japan­ese and became a best seller almost immediatiy..

    Aomame, a young assas­sin on her way to prac­tice her pro­fes­sion, steps out of a taxi cap and started notic­ing small but sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences in the world around her. Aomame real­izes that she entered a par­al­lel uni­verse which she calls 1Q84.

    At the same time Tengo, an aspir­ing author, takes on a ghost­writ­ing project and becomes so wrapped up with the work and its author when he starts notic­ing that his world has become unraveled.

    1Q84 by Haruki Murakami is not a com­plex novel, but it is long. The book asks an impor­tant ques­tion ¿what is reality¿?

    I¿ve worked with many mar­ket­ing peo­ple over the years, the one impor­tant les­son they have taught me is the ¿per­cep­tion is every­thing, real­ity is noth­ing¿. At first, my struc­tured mind that sees the world in 0s and 1s couldn¿t com­pre­hend what they were say­ing. How­ever, with a lit­tle bit of con­tem­pla­tion I came to real­ize that they were right.

    After all, we live in a fake world. The news we watch are fake, the food we eat is fake (that¿s why many immi­grants have their own food stores), the promises made to us by our lead­ers and cap­tains of indus­try are hol­low and bro­ken almost with­out delay.

    Murakami points out that one¿s per­spec­tive often deter­mines what real­ity is for them, whether or not it is real­ity for oth­ers ¿ I think he¿s right. The author points out that the year 1984 no longer exists, it is not a par­al­lel uni­verse or or another world:

    "For you and for me, the only time that exists any­more is this year of 1Q84"

    The novel inter­twines two nar­ra­tives, Aomame who is a full-time trainer/ part-time assas­sin and Tengo, a math teacher and nov­el­ist. Aomame and Tengo, whose sto­ries even­tu­ally join, see the world in a par­al­lel uni­verse, each one with its own minor dif­fer­ences (police uni­forms for exam­ple) but they con­tinue to live with those who are in their own world.

    The small dis­tinc­tions make all the dif­fer­ence to Aomame and Tengo in pur­su­ing their mean­ing & their per­sonal quests.

    How­ever, the real strength of the book is the epic struc­ture in which it is writ­ten in and the ref­er­ences to lit­er­a­ture, world­wide and Japan­ese, and his­tor­i­cal events which I found amus­ing. I only wish the trans­la­tors (Jay Rubin & Philip Gabriel, who did an excel­lent job by the way) would have been kind enough to put in some foot­notes about the cul­tural aspects of the book to put it in per­spec­tive to those who are not up to date on cul­tural details as Mr. Murakami is.
    But that is my com­plaint on most trans­lated books.

    The won­der­ful thing about 1Q84 is that it is clear that Murakami is hav­ing fun with his com­ments

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2011

    Amazing story

    At no point in time did I feel like I was reading a 1,000 page novel. Characters were fleshed out, settings were believable, action was steady, etc.

    Not quite as surreal as Wind Up Bird Chronicle and not as intense a love story as Norwegian Wood, 1Q84 is nonetheless one of my all-time favorite Murakami novels. Well worth the read.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    Frankly a snore

    I don't understand the popularity of this book. 1000 pages of inactivity. The characters are 2d, the dialogue forced. A big deception.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013

    This was the first book that I've read from Haruki Marakami &

    This was the first book that I've read from Haruki Marakami & I really enjoyed it. A lot of people complained about it being too long, however I loved how he told the story & miss it now that I'm done with it. Great characters & overall plot. I can't wait to read another book by him!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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