Tuesday, December 10, 2013

“1Q84” by Haruki Murakami – A Meditation on Life

1Q84” by Haruki Murakami – Front Cover
1Q84 is perhaps one of the better-known and more popular novels by Haruki Murakami, even though it certainly drew mixed reactions out of the public. For those who are not familiar with the author, Murakami has won a great number of awards for his many works of writing, making a name for himself as a humorous, original and philosophical author whose approach is unique in itself.

What precisely is 1Q84 about? Well, giving you a brief summary really won’t do this book justice, but I’ll try anyways. We follow two narratives surrounding a young man and a young woman who spent a part of their childhoods together.

Though separated by time and space, they both vividly remember each other, and very slowly their stories come together over the course of the book. Before that happens though, the young lady, Aomame, enters a bizarre parallel existence she refers to as 1Q84, and Tengo, the young man, sees his life unravel in unexpected ways after taking on a suspicious and mysterious ghostwriting job.

As is usual with Murakami, we are presented with a rather surrealistic world and a cast of characters that make for quite an absurd lineup. They include an unnaturally hideous private investigator, an unassuming and yet ruthless bodyguard, an irrationally perseverant television fee collector, and many others.

Through them we come to not only learn about the world Murakami is slowly building in front of us, but we also communicate with the author directly, taking in the ideas and philosophies he presents us with throughout the whole thing.

This is the kind of book that requires a lot of thinking in order to be enjoyed to its fullest, but at the same time, too much thinking will lead you to lose yourself in your own mind and prevent you from enjoying what’s on the surface.

Murakami believes that once the more serious subjects are dealt with, entertainment should come next for the reader, and that is precisely what these characters, and as a matter of fact, the world itself provide us with.

Now, why all the fuss around this book? Well, this certainly is not the best book to get introduced to Murakami through; throughout the first half the pace is extremely slow, and on far too many occasions the characters are overly passive not only in their actions, but also in their thoughts.

Now, I do understand that there is some kind of point to be found in these flaws, but the truth is that whatever it is, this writing method is a very poor choice of conveying it.

1Q84” by Haruki Murakami – Front Cover
There are many times when I found myself unable to resist the urge to skip entire paragraphs, knowing without a doubt nothing of interest would happen in them. Though the book does pick up later, getting through that first part was a real drag.

If you are interested in discovering what the author is truly capable of, I suggest you start with another one of his lighter books… otherwise, prepare yourself for an extraordinary, unusual, thought-provoking, and slow experience that you probably won’t forget, regardless of whether you will have loved or hated it.

Haruki Murakami (January 12, 1949)

Haruki Murakami

Personal site

Haruki Murakami is a Japanese writer and author of numerous bestsellers, some of which earned him the Franz Kafka Prize, the Jerusalem Prize, the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and others. Some of his better known works include Hear the Wind Sing and Kafka on the Shore.

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