ebook, 1050 pages.
Read from November 06 to December 19, 2015.
There are certain books that haunt you long after you’ve read them. Books that have you so interwoven in the plot and story that you feel like you’ve been there. And characters that you feel like you’ve known for a lifetime. That was this book for me. Again, Murakami has managed to impress me. While his writing style isn’t for everyone, this monster of a novel is not as threatening as it looks.
This isn’t your typical fiction novel. It’s an all-encompassing book that covers a few genres: dystopia, romance, mystery and fantasy. Set in the 1980s in Japan, a young woman named Aomame discovers that she has crossed over into a parallel universe. She aptly names it 1Q84, the “Q” meaning question mark. Meanwhile, a math teacher and aspiring writer, Tengo, is agreeing to a sketchy ghostwriting assignment that introduces him to the strange and remarkable girl named Fukaeri. After some defining experiences in a religious cult, Fukaeri has a pressing need to tell her story. For Tengo, something about writing this young girl’s story and her beliefs starts to awaken something in him and he knows that even if he is discovered as the ghostwriter of her story, it is essential that he writes it. Tengo’s timid life begins to awaken. The plotlines between Aomame and Tengo begin to merge as you learn that they once knew each other like school children and shared a moment that has marked both of them. They don’t know it, but they have since yearned and thought of each other since that day. Connected to each other, both Aomame and Tengo have a major part to play in the unfolding of Fukaeri’s story and the world of 1Q84.
In looking at other reviews of this book and there are some clear haters of this novel! I suppose I can understand why: it’s long, it’s peculiar and if Murakami’s style and character’s don’t resonate with you, then you will likely also hate this book. Some of the reviews mention the misogynist and male view in regards to anything sexual in the book and in a way, while I was reading the reviews, it dawned upon me that they’re not completely wrong. However, while I was reading the book itself I didn’t notice these points and it ultimately just didn’t read or feel that way to me. I also don’t believe it was the author’s intention either. Anything sexual in the book felt, to me, essential to the characters and the peculiar plot, especially once you learn about the love that Aomame and Tengo share. The sex that they were having previously and the lives that they were living prior to finding one another was a way to fill an emotional hole that only the two of them could fill. Additionally, if you read enough Murakami you will find that sex always seems to find its way into his novels and usually in a very strange way; try reading Kafka on the Shore if you want something really weird!
Based on the Murakami books I’ve read so far this is a pretty decent breakdown, the only thing it’s missing is sex:
In this novel, classical music is focused on more than Jazz, specifically the work by Leoš Janáček. There is also a Town of Cats in which Tengo visits his father, ears are definitely mentioned, Tengo has repeated weird dream sequences/flashbacks of his mother, and they’re a lot of talk about food. Tengo and Aomame both cook a lot. I wonder if Murakami is constantly hungry while he writes? I just finished his memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, and he is a major runner and triathlete so my guess is that, yes, he is always hungry. I know the pain!
Anyways, I haven’t stopped thinking about this novel. I finished this book before I moved over to Hong Kong actually and while I haven’t been to Japan (yet), where this book was set, there was something about moving over to Hong Kong that felt like I was stepping into 1Q84. There is just something about this story that just hits me; it’s a story of self-discovery and romance that is actually romantic The character’s self-reflection is intriguing and philosophical, yet relatable. While the book was long, I found myself looking forward to reading it and I didn’t have to trudge through it in the slightest.
In terms of recommendations, if you like Murakami then I would definitely read this book! If you’re considering reading Murakami for the first time, I think I would hold off on this one and try perhaps, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage first. Overall, this book is going on my life of favourites, something I haven’t done in almost 4 years!
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