1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel

At the core of 1Q84 is a spectacular love story about a girl and boy who briefly held hands when they were both 10. That said, with the fiercely imaginative Murakami as author, the story’s exposition is gloriously labyrinthine: Welcome “into this enigma-filled world of 1Q84,” which begins when sports club instructor Aomame exits a taxi and climbs down emergency stairs in order to bypass gridlocked traffic and make her next appointment.

Meanwhile, cram school teacher and wannabe novelist Tengo is in muddled negotiations to secretly rewrite a 17-year-old girl’s fascinating but still raw novella that has the potential to win a top literary prize. A Chekhov-quoting, Proust-sharing ethnic Korean bodyguard; a wealthy widow who shelters abused women; a policewoman with a penchant for wild, anonymous sex; a religious leader who admits to “congress” with prepubescent girls; a comatose father with a traveling spirit; a misshapen disbarred ex-lawyer – these are just some of Murakami’s uniquely signature characters who both hinder and help Aomame and Tengo’s hopeful path toward reunion.

Verdict: Originally published in Japan as three volumes, each of which were instant bestsellers, 1Q84 – perhaps Murakami’s finest – will surely have the same success in its breathlessly anticipated all-in-one English translation. Murakami aficionados will delight in recognizing traces of earlier titles, especially A Wild Sheep Chase, Norwegian Wood, and even Underground.

Review: “Fiction,” Library Journal, September 15, 2011

Readers: Adult

Published: 2011 (United States)


Filed under ...Absolute Favorites, ..Adult Readers, .Fiction, .Translation, Japanese

4 responses to “1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel

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  3. Pingback: Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami, translated by Alfred Birnbaum | BookDragon

  4. Handmade Jewelry

    If you remove everything else, at its heart, 1Q84 is a love story. But there is rather a lot to the “everything else.” Haruki Murakami’s epic novel is the story of Aomame and Tengo, and the first two-thirds of the book are told in chapters switching between the viewpoints of the two. In the last third, a new character and POV are added to the mix. Like all those works, analyzing the novel felt like slowly sinking into a well of dreams, and being surrounded in a mood of awareness and off hand beauty/absurdity.

    In such a long and complex book, there’s a lot more to share. For instance, Murakami follows the idea that time does not flow in a straight line. In 1Q84, time twists around, reality shifts, and the past can sneak up unannounced behind you. These are just a very few of the intriguing themes I found.

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