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1Q84 (Vintage International) Paperback – January 22, 2013


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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage International
  • Paperback: 1184 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (January 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307476464
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307476463
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.1 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (871 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2011: The year is 1984, but not for long. Aomame, on her way to meet a client--the gravid implications of which only come clear later--sits in a taxi, stuck in traffic. On a lark, she takes the driver's advice, bolts from the cab, walks onto the elevated Tokyo expressway, descends an emergency ladder to the street below, and enters a strange new world.

In parallel, a math teacher and aspiring novelist named Tengo gets an interesting offer. His editor has come upon an entry for a young writer's literary prize, a story that, despite its obvious stylistic drawbacks, strikes a deeply moving chord with those who've read it. Its author is a mysterious 17-year-old, and the editor proposes that Tengo quietly rewrite the story for the final round of the competition.

So begins Haruki Murakami's magnus opus, an epic of staggering proportions. As the tale progresses, it folds in a deliciously intriguing cast of characters: a physically repulsive private investigator, a wealthy dowager with a morally ambiguous mission, her impeccably resourceful bodyguard, the leader of a somewhat obscure and possibly violent religious organization, a band of otherworldly "Little People," a door-to-door fee collector seemingly immune to the limits of space and time, and the beautiful Fuka-Eri: dyslexic, unfathomable, and scarred.

Aomame names her new world "1Q84" in honor of its mystery: "Q is for 'question mark.' A world that bears a question.'" Weaving through it, central motifs--the moon, Janáček's Sinfonietta, George Orwell's 1984--acquire powerful resonance, and Aomame and Tengo's paths take on a conjoined life of their own, dancing with a protracted elegance that requires nearly 1,000 pages to reach its crowning denouement.

1Q84 was a runaway best seller in its native Japan, but it's more instructive to frame the book's importance in other ways. For one, it's hard not to compare it to James Joyce's Ulysses. Both enormous novels mark their respective author's most ambitious undertaking by far, occupy an artificially discrete unit of time (Ulysses, one day; 1Q84, one year), and can be read as having a narrative structure that evinces an almost quantum-mechanical relationship to reality, which is not to say that either author intended this.

More to the point, the English translation of 1Q84--easily the grandest work of world literature since Roberto Bolaño's 2666--represents a monstrous literary event. Now would somebody please award Murakami his Nobel Prize? --Jason Kirk --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“A book that . . . makes you marvel, reading it, at all the strange folds a single human brain can hold . . . A grand, third-person, all encompassing meganovel. It is a book full of anger and violence and disaster and weird sex and strange new realities, a book that seems to want to hold all of Japan inside of it . . . Murakami has established himself as the unofficial laureate of Japan—arguably its chief imaginative ambassador, in any medium, to the world: the primary source, for many millions of readers, of the texture and shape of his native country . . . I was surprised to discover, after so many surprising books, that he managed to surprise me again.”
—Sam Anderson, The New York Times Magazine
 
“Profound . . . A multilayered narrative of loyalty and loss . . . A fully articulated vision of a not-quite-nightmare world . . . A big sprawling novel [that] achieves what is perhaps the primary function of literature: to reimagine, to reframe, the world . . .  At the center of [1Q84’s] reality . . . is the question of love, of how we find it and how we hold it, and the small fragile connections that sustain us, even (or especially) despite the odds . . . This is a major development in Murakami’s writing . . . A vision, and an act of the imagination.”
—David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times
 
“Murakami is clearly one of the most popular and admired novelists in the world today, a brilliant practitioner of serious, yet irresistibly engaging, literary fantasy . . . Once you start reading 1Q84, you won’t want to do much else until you’ve finished it . . . Murakami possesses many gifts, but chief among them is an almost preternatural gift for suspenseful storytelling . . . Despite its great length, [his] novel is tightly plotted, without fat, and he knows how to make dialogue, even philosophical dialogue, exciting . . . Murakami’s novels have been translated into a score of languages, but it would be hard to imagine that any of them could be better than the English versions by Jay Rubin, partnered here with Philip ­Gabriel . . . There’s no question about the sheer enjoyability of this ­gigantic novel, both as an eerie thriller and as a moving love story . . . I read the book in three days and have been thinking about it ever since.”
—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
 
“Fascinating . . . A remarkable book in which outwardly simple sentences and situations snowball into a profound meditation on our own very real dystopian trappings . . . One of those rare novels that clearly depict who we are now and also offer tantalizing clues as to where literature may be headed . . . I’d be curious to know how Murakami’s yeoman translators Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel divided up the work . . . because there are no noticeable bumps in the pristine and deceptively simple prose . . . More than any author since Kafka, Murakami appreciates the genuine strangeness of our real world, and he’s not afraid to incorporate elements of surrealism or magical realism as tools to help us see ourselves for who we really are. 1Q84 is a tremendous accomplishment. It does every last blessed thing a masterpiece is supposed to—and a few things we never even knew to expect.”
—Andrew Ervin, The San Francisco Chronicle
 
“[1Q84] is fundamentally different from its predecessors. We realize before long that it is a road. And what the writer has laid down is a yellow brick road. It passes over stretches of deadly desert, to be sure, through strands of somniferous poppies, and past creatures that hurl their heads, spattering us with spills of kinked enigma. But the destination draws us: We crave it, and the craving intensifies as we go along (unlike so many contemporary novels that are sampler menus with neither main course nor appetite to follow). More important, the travelers we encounter, odd and wildly disparate as they are, possess a quality hard to find in Murakami’s previous novels: a rounded, sometimes improbable humanity with as much allure as mystery. It is not just puzzlement they present, but puzzled tenderness; most of all in the two leading figures, Aomame and Tengo. Converging through all manner of subplot and peril, they arouse a desire in us that almost mirrors their own . . . Murakami makes us want to follow them; we are reluctant to relinquish them. Who would care about the yellow brick road without Scarecrow’s, Woodman’s and Lion’s freakiness and yearning? What is a road, particularly Murakami’s intricately convoluted road, without its human wayfarers?”
—Richard Eder, The Boston Globe
 
1Q84 is one of those books that disappear in your hands, pulling you into its mysteries with such speed and skill that you don’t even notice as the hours tick by and the mountain of pages quietly shrinks . . . I finished 1Q84 one fall evening, and when I set it down, baffled and in awe, I couldn’t help looking out the window to see if just the usual moon hung there or if a second orb had somehow joined it. It turned out that this magical novel did not actually alter reality. Even so, its enigmatic glow makes the world seem a little strange long after you turn the last page. Grade: A.”
—Rob Brunner, Entertainment Weekly
 
“A 932-page Japanese novel set in Tokyo in which the words ‘sushi’ and ‘sake’ never appear but there are mentions of linguine and French wine, as well as Proust, Faye Dunaway, The Golden Bough, Duke Ellington, Macbeth, Churchill, Janáèek, Sonny and Cher, and, give the teasing title, George Orwell? Welcome to the world of Haruki Murakami . . . A symmetrical and multi-layered yarn, as near to a 19th-century three-decker as it is possible to be . . . The label of fantasy-realism has been stuck to it, but it actually has more of a Dickensian or Trollopian structure . . . Explicit, yet subtle and dream-like, combining viciousness with whimsy . . . this is Murakami’s unflagging and masterful take on the desire and pursuit of the Whole.”
—Paul Theroux, Vanity Fair
 
“Do you miss the girl with the dragon tattoo? Do you long for the thrill of following her adventures again through three volumes of exciting, intelligent fiction? If so, I have good news for you. She’s got a sort of soul sister in one of the two main characters in Haruki Murakami’s wonderful novel 1Q84 . . . With more than enough narrative and intellectual heft to make it enjoyable for anyone with a taste for moving representations of modern consciousness in the magical realist mode, this story may easily carry you away to a new world and keep you there for a long time . . . The deep and resonant plot . . . unfolds at a leisurely pace but in compelling fashion by luring us along with scenes of homicidal intrigue, literary intrigue, religious fanaticism, physical sex, metaphysical sex and asexual sex. And music . . . Murakami’s main characters find themselves drawn toward each other as irresistibly, magnetically, hypnotically, soulfully and physically as any characters in Western fiction. Given the plain-spoken but appealing nature of the prose (translated by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel), most of you will feel that same power as an insinuating compulsion to read on, despite the enormous length, hoping against hope for a happy ending under a sky with either two moons or one. Two moons—two worlds—a girl with—900 pages—1Q84 is a gorgeous festival of words arranged for maximum comprehension and delicious satisfaction.”
—Alan Cheuse, NPR
 
“Murakami’s new novel is the international literary giant at his uncanny, mesmerizing best . . . The spell cast by Murakami’s fiction is formed in the tension between his grounded accounts of everyday life and the otherworldly forces that keep intruding on that life, propelling the characters into surreal adventures . . . Translation is at the center of what Murakami does; not a translation from one tongue to another, but the translation of an inner world into this, the outer one. Very few writers speak the truths of that secret, inner universe more fluently.”
—Laura Miller, Salon
 
“Bewitching and extraordinarily unsettling . . . Part noir crime drama, part love story, and part hallucinatory riff on 1984 . . . Murakami paces a story as well as any writer alive. He knows how to tell a love story without getting cute. He understands how to blend realism and fantasy (magical realism if you want to get all literary about it) in just the right proportions. And he has a knack for writing about everyday matters—fixing dinner, going for a walk—in such a way that the events at hand, no matter how mundane, are never boring . . . Most impressive, he knows how to inject the logic and atmosphere of dreams into his fiction without becoming coy or vague. He’s Kafka-esque to the extent that he’s not interested in why or how a man may have turned into an insect overnight, but in how the man deals with his new situation. And like Beckett, he furnishes his dreamscapes with a mere handful of carefully chosen props—a tree, a streetlight, a playground sliding board—specifics that ground a scene but leave room for the reader to fill in details. This is perhaps the key point: he makes you, the reader, his collaborator. What he leaves out is as important as what he includes, because it encourages you to fill in the blanks in the canvas . . . Murakami is one of the very few novelists—Dickens comes most easily to mind—who can make a serious, play-by-the-rules reader cheat and jump ahead to find out what’s happened to a character . . . Even while we are being entertained by the weirdness of the world he’s creating, we feel a ...


More About the Author

Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into forty-two languages. The most recent of his many honours is the Franz Kafka Prize.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

374 of 410 people found the following review helpful By las cosas on October 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I am rushing this review to warn other Murakami fans (fanatics?) that this one starts out surprisingly slow. It wasn't until Part 2 that the pace started approaching a typical Murakami. I am also warning those who have never read Murakami before that that is NOT the novel to start with.

As always with his novels, it is of little value to attempt a plot summary. Cults and Little People and two moons? Yep, sounds like Murakami. In fact you can open the book to any section and after a few minutes know that you can be reading no author other than Murakami. It is a highly unusual voice, and comes through as distinctively in this as in his other books.

There are two main characters, a man and a woman who knew each other as children. Both had typically Murakami odd lonely childhoods, and though they haven't seen each other since they were young, both continue to remember the other with a particular intensity. In alternating chapters we follow the lives of these two, and soon we figure out that their stories are slowly (oh so slowly) leading towards each other.

As always, I am immensely enjoying reading this book. But I do have reservations. The book is too long, maybe 1/3rd too long. A typical feature in his books is to present an idea, an object, a reference from one perspective, and then repeat it, often multiple times, from other perspectives. Only through these repeated narrow views does the reader begin to piece together the true import of what is being presented. This layering of perspectives, added to the unusual nature of what is being seen, is core to the world Murakami unveils to us in his fiction. The problem in this book is that the perspectives are over-layered and at some point lose their power.
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327 of 376 people found the following review helpful By Shashank Singh on October 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The above is a quote from this book, and well worth taking to heart. I take Jung's advice on dream images when reading a Murakami novel: don't try to unravel the underlying/hidden meaning, just stay with the images and let them move you and revel their meaning/feeling slowly.

There are images in this novel that will stay with me for years.

I'm a big fan and this is certainly one of his best novels, right there with works like The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, Norwegian Wood, and Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Like all those works, reading the novel felt like slowly sinking into a well of dreams, and being enveloped in a mood of curiosity and off hand beauty/absurdity.

Some of the early reviews seem to be complaining about the book being repetitious, and the characters being too passive. All I can say is, this must be the first Murakami books you've read. This describes many of his books.

The passivity of the characters is actually essential to this book which deals with a world bereft of meaningful stories, and people susceptible to meaning that gives the false impression of depth [cults in this case].

Repetition is a form of making real in Murakami. The meanings are in the images, the images often begin as shadows, the novel takes those shadows and through echoes like a jazz song it breaths life into them: sometimes quite literally as in his book Hard Boiled Wonderland. I love it, but someone not used to it might find it odd.

As far as the more fantastic elements, I'll let Murakami speak for himself:

"I don't want to persuade the reader that it's a real thing; I want to show it as it is. In a sense, I'm telling those readers that it's just a story--it's fake.
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568 of 694 people found the following review helpful By Chris Fiorillo on November 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Imagine everything you love about your favorite cocktail; the way the ingredients intermingle, often with hints of flavors that, while unbearable on their own, blend magnificently with others to create a mixed concoction to stimulate even the most nether regions of the human tongue. Now dump your glass into a gallon jug. Fill the jug to the 3/4 mark with water. Then add clam juice, tabasco sauce, maple syrup, nutmeg, and vanilla extract til you get to the top. Voila! You've got 1Q84. Drink it down, consumers.

I'm currently 720 pages in and have resorted to skipping whole paragraphs. Why I feel the need to continue despite a blossoming blase could perhaps best be explained by my previous Murakami experience- I first read all of his books within a span of 10 days using a flood light outside of my hotel in Singapore. Despite this I just can't see the point of 1Q84 (other than length, of course). Put simply, 1Q84 is a meandering odyssey to nowhere in particular.

Reading 1Q84, you'll find that many of Murakami's "trademarks" are present: the contrast of an ultra-sentimental/nostalgic (natsukashii -_-) love story to its surreal sci-fiesque backdrop; minute details of each character's appearance and daily routine to make up for an otherwise flat individual; allusions to Western artists galore. What 1Q84 fails to provide is something to tie everything together into a neat little package to make me care what happens. The two main characters are eternally and subliminally united by troubled youths, voided personalities, and a single hand grab decades prior to the events of the story.
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