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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.
A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post Best Book of the Year
“Brilliant. . . . An irresistibly engaging literary fantasy. . . . Murakami possesses many gifts, but chief among them is an almost preternatural gift for suspenseful storytelling.”
—The Washington Post
“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.”
—The New York Times Magazine
“Bewitching. . . . Part noir crime drama, part love story, and part hallucinatory riff on 1984. . . . You don’t know where things are going while you read it, and you can’t say exactly where you’ve been when you’re finished, but everything around you looks different somehow. If this is fiction as funhouse, it is very serious fun, and you enter at the risk of your own complacency.”
“A magical journey to a parallel world . . . 1Q84 is a love story and a detective story. It’s a philosophical novel about the power of storytelling, the nature of reality, and the shifting balance of good and evil. . . . Once the narrative begins to pick up, you have no desire to put the book down.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“A weirdly gripping page-turner. . . . Its tonal register—as if serving as an antidote to the unsettling world it presents—is consistently warmhearted, secretly romantic, and really quite genial.”
—Charles Baxter, The New York Review of Books
“Fascinating. . . . 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. . . . A tremendous accomplishment. It does every last blessed thing a masterpiece is supposed to—and a few things we never even knew to expect.”
—The San Francisco Chronicle
“Magnificent in many ways, a work of the imagination that defies description. . . . An immersive experience, one that will leave readers wondering what is real and what is imagined.”
“[A] 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, given the teasing title, George Orwell? . . . This is Murakami’s unflagging and masterful take on the desire and pursuit of the Whole.”
—Paul Theroux, Vanity Fair
“Profound. . . . A multilayered narrative of loyalty and loss. . . . A big sprawling novel [that] achieves what is perhaps the primary function of literature: to reimagine, to reframe, the world. . . . A vision, and an act of the imagination.”
—Los Angeles Times
“The international literary giant at his uncanny, mesmerizing best. . . . 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.”
“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. . . . Magical. . . . Its enigmatic glow makes the world seem a little strange long after you turn the last page. Grade: A.”
“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
“[1Q84] is fundamentally different from its predecessors. . . . 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.” —The Boston Globe
“Voracious visionary Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 mixes down-the-rabbit-hole fantasy with out-there science fiction for a superhefty but accessible adventure.” —Elle
“Powerful . . . . His most ambitious novel yet. . . . An unstoppably readable, deeply moving love story that cements Murakami’s reputation as a uniquely compassionate and imaginative novelist who’s among the leading voices of his global generation.”
—The Christian Science Monitor
“[1Q84] is generous in the way that Philip Roth is generous: you get the feeling that everything Murakami has thought, and felt, and experienced, is out there on the page. Nothing gets held back, not even the uglines—especially the ugliness. . . . It’s the kind of risky storytelling that writers of my generation are often too scared to try.”
—Charles Baxter, The Millions’ “A Year in Reading”
“Mesmerizing. . . . Take the time to get carried away, and time itself—as well as the way you think about how you spend yours—will take on new dimensions. It’s a mind-blowing experience. Great novels always are.”
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Extraordinarily ambitious. . . . Beguiling and ridiculously entertaining. . . . Murakami has created the big, beautiful book so many people have been waiting for. . . . We got our hopes up—and he didn’t let us down.”
—The Kansas City Star
“A huge novel in every sense . . . putting it down is not an option. . . . The reader who steps into its time flow only reluctantly comes ashore.”
—New York Daily News
“[A] masterwork. . . . [Murakami has] crafted what may well become a classic literary rendering of pre-2011 Japan. . . . Orwell wrote his masterpiece to reflect a future dystopia through a Cold War lens. . . . Similarly, Murakami’s 1Q84 captures attitudes and circumstances that characterize Japanese life before the March earthquake-tsunami-nuclear disaster. Reading 1Q84, one can’t help but sense already how things have changed.”
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
I enjoyed the book. I first found Murakami through a college English class where I was required to read Kafka on the Shore. I found his writing style very unique and interesting. Read morePublished 1 day ago by brandi
Murkowski creates a world where logic and belief are tested. It's expansive and comprehensive. Populated with people so real that you can hear them breathe. Amazing.Published 6 days ago by B. Wright
Too repetitive! Could have been 599 pages shorter! Wonderful descriptions and the author is obviously well read, but length for the sake of punishment... Have mercy!Published 7 days ago by Jane W. Hollister
The premise of this book is pretty interesting. It was intriguing enough through the first 2 parts that I managed to slough through the 3rd, but I ultimately left disappointed. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Leland Rodriguez
This book was such a unique read for me. It was exactly what I need to get me out of my fiction rut.Published 11 days ago by Amazon Customer
Don't be intimidated by the length -- I was glad for it because the book was so enjoyable to read. The book was engaging and full of memorable character that leave you wanting to... Read morePublished 13 days ago by Tea