by Haruki Murakami and Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel

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"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.  Read more...

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More About 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami; Jay Rubin; Philip Gabriel

"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.

  • ISBN-13: 9780307593313
  • ISBN-10: 0307593312
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publish Date: October 2011
  • Page Count: 925

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2011-08-29
  • Reviewer: Staff

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.)

BookPage Reviews

Murakami’s dystopian magnum opus

A scan through reviews of Japanese writer Haruki Murakami’s work repeatedly yields such words as “surreal” and “alienation”—and these are certainly apt markers for his much-anticipated new novel, 1Q84. Originally published as a trilogy in Japan, where the first volume sold more than a million copies in just two months, this dystopian epic weighs in at more than 900 pages and required the services of two translators to speed the process of getting it into the hands of his many English-speaking fans.

The title pays homage to Orwell, and the story unfolds over nine months in 1984, but within the first few pages it becomes an alternate or parallel 1984. This strange transformation occurs when a young woman named Aoname (“green pea” in Japanese) impatiently disembarks from a traffic-ensnared taxi and makes her way down from the elevated expressway via an emergency stairway. Suddenly the world seems changed—she notices policemen are wearing different uniforms, for instance, and there appear to be two moons in the night sky—but she hurries to a hotel, where she quietly assassinates a businessman. Aoname, we learn, is a paid vigilante, tasked with killing men who abuse women.

In alternating chapters, we meet Tengo, a math instructor and aspiring novelist with his own unusual assignment. A publisher has asked him to revise the manuscript of a brilliant, if poorly written, novella by a 17-year-old girl, Fuka-Eri. Air Chrysalis is a visionary tale about a world orchestrated by Little People and presided over by two moons. Though he fears the scandal that could erupt if the literary deception is revealed, Tengo is too taken by the story to refuse the assignment. The elusive, dyslexic Fuka-Eri grew up on a communal farm, home of a religious cult with utopian intentions. She claims the odd story she tells in Air Chrysalis is true.

Aoname dubs this strange new year 1Q84 (Q for question), and in due course her perilous destiny will converge with Tengo’s. Both are loners, carrying psychological scars that have rendered them emotionally sterile and unable to connect with others. Tengo is haunted by a disturbing memory of his mother, who died when he was 18 months old, and he resents his father. Aoname thinks little about her own childhood, but is hounded by thoughts of a close friend who committed suicide to escape an abusive marriage.

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 pace is admittedly languid and at times requires some patience—Murakami is methodical in his descriptions of locales, actions and characters’ thoughts, and conversations often play out with a flat tone of reality rather than any sense of narrative expediency. The supporting cast—from the ugly private eye who tracks Aoname and Tengo, to the forthright dowager who bankrolls Aoname’s retribution, to the terminally ill cult leader—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.

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