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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

I'm still not sure what I think about 1Q84.  It is the first book I've read by the celebrated Murakami, who has a large and devoted following.

The book is so very long that even though I read with interest, when I'd put it down, I felt no great longing to return to it.  I ended up reading several books even as I kept plugging away at this one.

The plot is strangely uncompelling, especially given the weird details like a dead goat that functions as conduit for...something, but still not clear what, an air chrysalis that produces...a doppleganger?, a weird cult, and a parallel world with two moons.

Curiosity about how all the strange events hung together and about a possible solution brought me back to the book.

Some disjointed thoughts about style and content:

-filler...paragraph after paragraph, detail after detail

-repetitions--characters repeat themselves, the author repeats himself; literally and in paraphrase

-lots of allusions to popular culture, music, and literature; mostly Western

-loose ends:  his father, his mother/the nurse in cat town/the girl friend, the professor, Fuka-Eri, Janacek's Sinfonietta, Sagikake-its strange perverse rituals and its purpose

-such a strange landscape of a novel; vague, amorphous; dream-like

In the end, I found that loose ends remained.  My curiosity--unsatisfied.

The novel is purported to be a love story, and I suppose it was.  My final opinion hasn't gelled on any aspect of the novel.   I didn't hate it.  I didn't particularly like it.  But I suspect that images from this novel will remain with me which, considering the books I've read that have totally evaporated from my mind whether I enjoyed them or not, is saying something.

Who else has read this?  What do you think?

Fiction.  I don't know how to classify this one.  Alternate history? Dystopian?  Magical Realism?  2011.  944 pages.


  1. I usually like Murakami but didn't feel tempted by this one. The length is only one reason. I've read a few mixed reviews here and there. Some of the things you mention are typically Murakami. It's dream like, lots of references to Western culture, strange things happen.

  2. I haven't read this one yet but I generally like Murakami and all his strangeness so I suspect I will be reading this eventually.

  3. Caroline - It is such a long book. I probably should have begun with one of his other, shorter novels. Reading it slowly, however, is probably the best way to approach 1Q84--letting it digest a little along the way. I don't think I'll forget it (or at least I'll retain strong imagery), but a bit more resolution would have improved it for me.

    Stefanie -- I really do need to read something else by Murakami just to get a reference point, but not anytime soon. :)

    I'll be eager to here your opinion when you get around to reading it as you have more experience with his style and subject matter.

  4. I had trouble getting into Murakami till I read some of his short stories and his book about running. His shorter works are equally quirky but a little easier to digest. I think maybe now that I've read some of his shorter work, I might feel like I can cope with his novels (but I'm not eager to read 1Q84, to be honest). I recommend After the Quake, if you want to give his short stories a try.

  5. Nancy - Maybe I'll try some of his short stories eventually. Right now, I feel a bit overwhelmed with the TBR pile--especially since I'm not reading as much as usual!