If you picked up 1Q84, found your arms cramping up from the sheer weight of it, and then promptly set it back down, you are not alone! It’s a veritable literary monster. (928 pages — YIKES!!!) However, don’t let the size deter you; it was never meant to be read all at once. Unlike the American version, 1Q84 was originally published in Japan as three reasonably-sized volumes. So if length is the issue (it really put me off for quite some time), read it as the trilogy it was meant to be, and take it one book at a time.
I just finished the last page, and am sitting here with my mind completely blown and at a total loss for words. I suppose I’ll follow the advice of Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, and start at the very beginning (apparently a very good place to start) with the strange little title: 1Q84. Giving a nod to Orwell’s 1984, the letter Q (indicative of the word question, emphasizing a sense of confusion and lack of understanding) takes the place of the number 9 creating an entirely new year, 1Q84, and setting the tone for the unexpected world contained within its pages. If that wasn’t enough, here’s another little fun fact about the title: in Japanese, the English letter Q and the number 9 are pronounced the same way, making for a clever play on words to boot. That’s a lot of meaning to get out of four little characters, but I’d expect nothing less from Mr. Murakami.
Now onto the book…I know this isn’t very helpful, but I’m not really sure how to tell anything about the novel without giving away everything about it. I can say that Murakami begins the first volume by telling parallel tales of two people, Tengo and Aomame, during the year 1984. Chapter by chapter, layer by layer, their stories are intertwined until by the end of the third volume, one becomes indistinguishable from the other. Reading this is rather like looking at something through a fog; certain things are revealed, adding dimension to the story, while at the same time other meanings are obscured, causing one to look deeper for answers.
How did he create something like this? I can’t even begin to understand, but I can guarantee that you never will have read anything quite like 1Q84. I must say, though, be forewarned: 1Q84 is more than a bit out there, at times verging on bizarre. Murakami’s imagination is boundless, stretching to places far beyond what is expected, but certain key elements are rather disturbing, and will likely take many well beyond their comfort zone. The skill with which he crafted this tale is indescribable, though, and the way he intertwines the lives of the characters is simply mesmerizing. Those points alone make 1Q84 a more than worthwhile read.
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