1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – Book Review (sort of)

Wow, I feel a bit overwhelmed.  Where do you start talking about Murakami’s epic fantastical love story, 1Q84? An analysis could go in any number of interesting directions,  including parallels to George Orwell’s 1984; possibly a further study of Murakami’s body of work as a whole looking at recurring themes; or the inevitability of true love; the significance of the moon as a symbol in literature; how ruined childhoods breed dysfunction;  a comparative study of the ruinous power of cults and religion; an exploration of the intersection of fiction with life and vice versa; the pervasive theme of violence against women in the novel; or perhaps an analysis of 1Q84‘s more fantastical elements including the notion of the  “cat town”, and the parallel two-mooned universe commanded by  “little people”.

And yet,  Murakami more than succeeds at bringing all these elements together in what is essentially a love story  between Aomame and Tengo who meet when they are children.   When Aomame takes Tengo’s hand and looks into his eyes, the power of pure love is unleashed in the two children that leaves them yearning for each other twenty years later.

As a child,  Aomame leaves her family, who are members of a rigid Christian cult. As an adult she is a fitness coach/ assassin who kills men who are abusive to their wives. Tengo,  is a child prodigy, who also leaves his father, a fanatical NHK bill collector, to become a writer and math teacher. Tengo – co-writes the book that creates the world they both enter, that ultimately tries to bring them together. But the almost mirror world to their own, differs in unknown and extremely dangerous ways for both of them. This novel sets pure love against a backdrop of a violent, dark, trickster world. And wow, did I ever love it. Both  1Q84 and Stephen King’s 11 12 63 are a real departure for me but I thoroughly enjoyed both of them. Highly recommended!

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – Book Review (sort of)

  1. Alison

    YES!!! What a fabulous review/summation/explication of a nearly impossible-to-describe book! Thank you, thank you for this, Tessa – exactly the way I felt.

    • Hi Alison, It took me forever to even attempt to write something because there was just so much going on. As I’m writing this I’m thinking of all the cultural references he makes throughout which Megan (who left a comment below) explores a little in her blog post. Interesting writer. What next though? I’m at a loss and have taken to reading Hello magazine and drinking too many vodka tonics:)

  2. Wow, this really is a great summation. Like you mentioned, I decided to explore some of the parallels to 1984 (http://wp.me/p26InE-5O), and I’m planning on looking at the book after reading a lot of the other books Murakami mentioned, because I I found Murakami’s strong element of referring to the process of writing a story interesting, and just in general something I wanted to explore differently.

  3. Hi Megan, I found the whole fiction as reality as fiction thread really interesting It’s definitely an area I would like to read a bit more about regarding this book. Thanks for stopping by! Tess

    • It does seem like Murakami wanted us to wrap our heads around the whole chicken and egg scenario, doesn’t it?

      • Well I think his numerous cultural/literary and musical references feed into the larger narrative structure – which heavily references a famous literary novel and then below that or in addition to that is the world that is created by the book that Tengo writes. I’m definitely fascinated by the whole structure! If you come across anything else or something jumps to mind -drop me a line! Now what do I read next – I’m kinda lost.

      • Brothers’ Karamazov was referenced in 1Q84, and it is a great book. Maybe try reading that while thinking about 1Q84. I’ve read it before, but I’m going to try rereading it thru that lens.

  4. But don’t you wish you could read Air Chrysalis? THAT was the main thing that Murakami withheld, of all the things he withheld, in my opinion.

    • I never even thought of that but you’re right. There are also things about the relationship between the two worlds that I don’t understand. For example, are they parallel universes? Do both exist at the same time?

      • I don’t think they are, if we are to believe the leader, he said that when 1Q84 was created, 1984 ceased to exist. Which would mean that when Tengo and Aomame stepped into that new, I’ll call it Tiger, world, 1Q84 ceased to exist. Then again, can the leader be trusted. He did, after all, say that Tengo and Aomame could not be together, or did he mean that they could not be together in 1Q84? What were his motivations, for his group to have Aomame’s baby, so he would say just about anything, wouldn’t he? Aomame assumed that a man would be honest in death, but maybe his motivations are not of this world and do not concern mortality. What will this baby being born into the Tiger world mean? And, here’s a troubling question: Who is the mysterious author of the ‘Cat Town’ story?

      • Yeah, the Cat Town story is a familiar sounding story to me. Definitely lots to think about with this book.Have you read Let the Great World Spin?

      • I haven’t. I’ll put it on my list.

  5. Alison

    Tessa, have you read 2666 (Roberto Bolano)? Seems like the perfect book(s) to follow 1Q84.

    • Hi Alison, No I haven’t. I was wandering around the bookstore yesterday feeling hopeless. I’m going to take a look today. Thanks! Love your new thing every day blog series by the way:)

  6. Pingback: What I’m reading now. 1Q84 | nobluehair

  7. Pingback: The Lighthouse by Allison Moore – Book Review | Condofire

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