Author: Haruki Murakami
Review: This doorstop of a book could actually be used as a weapon; at 925 densely written pages it is that big. I will say from the start it is the reason I gave it a four instead of a five because it is an intimidating book to wade through if you do not have a relationship with the author’s work already. You have to have the commitment coming into it.
1Q84 is a parallel universe that is extremely close to ours: just tweaked. Our two protagonists, Tengo and Aomame, have a chance encounter when they are ten years old, which forges a love that cannot be fulfilled elsewhere. They spend the next twenty years travelling through life just getting by emotionally, taking the path of least resistance and never fully engaging with the world. Their life purpose was introduced to them and everything else pales when compared to it.
In the end, this book was a love story for me. Two lost souls looking for that which would complete them, and when they would not go to the mountain – Aomame chooses to wait until life happens to her (that she would just run into Tengo), and Tengo settles for good enough and pretends he is happy – the universe decides to bring the mountain to them. Their paths are set up to cross once again. This is hampered by Ushikawa, the third POV character and for me, the personal demon of the heroes. For Tengo he offers money, and then conversely loss just to keep the status quo. For Aomame he brings sorry and threats into her life; to be exposed insomuch she resorts to hiding herself away from life altogether.
All the supporting cast seem to be offering distractions, stumbling blocks, or just plain outs to keep them from their destinies, from happiness. The ghost of Tengo’s father keeps is an exception. He keeps showing up on their respective doorsteps to accuse them of ultimately being disingenuous, to let them know he is not fooled by their carefully crafted lies of fulfillment.
So what does that mean for us the reader? Are you living a happy life? Are you fulfilled, striving to find your purpose? Destiny is what we make it and more often than not the one thing that holds us back is our own fears. You do not need anyone’s permission to be awesome. Somewhere out there is our own 2Q12, a universe in which we face our fears and be little more honest, a little braver. A universe where we overcome ourselves and find the happiness that is within all of us, just waiting to enjoyed.
As I said in the beginning, a 5 star review reflects the quality of the story, the beauty of the writing, and the accessibility of the work to an average reader. Murakami hits the first two out of the park, but he is one of those writers you really do have to work up to, and 1Q84 is a Master’s level course. If you have never read him before I would recommend one of his earlier works like Norwegian Wood or Sputnik Sweetheart. But definitely put this book on your read before I die list, because ultimately it is not to be missed. It is Murakami at his best.
Thank you T Stevens for this review.
Thank you T Stevens for this review.
Publisher: AlfredA. Knopf
Quick Review: 4 stars (out of 5)
Why I Read It: I started with Murakami several years ago looking for Japanese literature. He is really good and I have stuck with him ever since.
Where I got the book: I requested my local library order it and they did – Yeah for libraries!
Synopsis: Murakami is like a magician who explains what he's doing as he performs the trick and still makes you believe he has supernatural powers . . . But while anyone can tell a story that resembles a dream, it's the rare artist, like this one, who can make us feel that we are dreaming it ourselves. - The New York Times Book Review The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo. A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver's enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 -Q is for question mark. A world that bears a question. Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled. As Aomame's and Tengo's narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector. A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell's- 1Q84 is Haruki Murakamirs's most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.
Author Biography: Author Haruki Murakami was born on January 12, 1949 in Kyoto, Japan, and most of his youth was spent in Kobe. Murakami's parents both taught Japanese literature. Murakami studied at Tokyo's Waseda University. He opened a coffeehouse/jazz bar in the capital called Peter Cat with his wife, Yoko. He later turned to writing full time following the publication of his first novel in 1979, Hear the Wind Sing. Murakami received national recognition for Norwegian Wood and is considered by many to be an important figure in postmodern literature. His fiction is described as humorous and surreal, and the themes of alienation and loneliness are often present in his works. Several of his stories have been adapted for the stage and as films. Murakami has also written nonfiction, including works dealing with the Aum Shinrikyo subway gas attack, as well as a collection of essays about his marathon and triathlon experiences, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. He has translated into Japanese literature written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Carver, Truman Capote, John Irving, and Paul Theroux. Murakami has received numerous literary awards, including the Franz Kafka Prize for his novel Kafka on the Shore and the Yomiuri Prize for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. In January 2009 Murakami received the Jerusalem Prize. His title 1Q84 made Publisher's Weekly best seller list for 2011. (Bowker Author Biography)
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