Article in brief: A book review of Murakami’s 1Q84. A novel of an alternate history.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami was a bestselling (920 pages) novel for a reason. With a title like this (a play on words with George Orwell’s 1984) you can easily tell it’s not your typical boy meets girl and saves her life for a happily ever after kind of novel. It is an epic romance in a fictionalized 1984 in Tokyo, a parallel universe to one of the characters, which is hinted by the title 1Q84 and represented by a second moon in the sky on it’s book cover.
The novel is irresistible to the point that your day to day activities would seem insignificant, and you would be left with no goal other than reading it till the end. The novel is written in two books through three volumes. Each volume is seen through the eyes of a different character. It beings with Aomame, a thirty year old woman travelling by taxi to a hotel in the district of Shibuya to finish an assignment. We are then introduced to Tengo a math teacher who aspires to be a writer and agrees to enter a writing competition through rewriting a story by a high school student. His life goal is to find a girl he fell in love with twenty years ago. As the novel progresses, we are introduced to Ushikawa, a very ugly, yet intelligent man who is repelled by everyone who lays eyes on him.
The book starts off slow, but this should not be a letdown. It’s a very symbolic novel. An invitation to get lost in a new world, find out who we are and immerge as a newer version of ourselves. It’s very rich, very complex and it’s irrelevant to everything that is logical with a high level of ambiguity. However, this should not be a discouragement. Reading through 900+ pages, can be a bit difficult and the novel itself dances on the edge of complexity.
Murakami seems to bend all the rules when it comes to novel writing, where he blended different genres of writing in one book and he was not afraid of it. The outcome was a novel that has fantasy, where the events happen in parallel worlds. History, after all the events took place in 1984 (thirty years ago). Romance, the kind of impossible love you sympathise with because there is no hope for it to thrive (or maybe there is). Murakami didn’t stop here; adding fanatical cult followers to the mix was brilliant. He’s not only a gifted writer, but a very technical storyteller too and I must admit he’s not a conventional storyteller.
The novel is eerie yet there’s something very friendly and familiar about it. The characters will not only rub on you, but you will find yourself looking for that second moon in the sky promising you your own parallel universe.
An avid reader, Maitha has always dreamt of being a recognized novelist and poet. For the last decade she focused on HR as a career, which has taken her away from her dream, but it’s never too late. Her column Pocket full of Books focuses on book reviews and doesn’t necessarily focus on a specific genre.
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