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 realises, 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 Murakami'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.
BONUS AUDIO: Audible interviews the translators of 1Q84, Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel.
©2011 Haruki Murakami (P)2011 Audible Ltd
"It is a work of maddening brilliance and gripping originality, deceptively casual in style...vibrating with wit, intellect and ambition." (The Times)
"Eerie, suspenseful and packed full of gorgeous ordinary details and provocative extraordinary events...funny, fresh and intensely surreal. Unmissable." (Marie Claire)
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"1Q84 welcome to this world"
Kept me listening for 5 weeks, addictive, not as surreal as some writers make out, belief is easily suspended.
An intimate glimpse into japanese society that most Westerners know little about. The whole novel isn't a 5 star for me, but that is not to detract from it, the readers were superb.
"Such an epic. Such a flop."
There are already extensive reviews on this book. I read them and decided to make my own mind up, but 45 hours later feel a huge sense of disappointment.
The weirdness of the plot construct, wedded to the quirky delivery style has the potential to spark into life in an exciting way. And yet ultimately you are left wondering what on earth it is supposed to be about, or what the book is trying say.
It is particularly galling that so many things go unexplained, despite the epic length. Small people chanting "ho ho ho", a magical air chrysalis here and there, girls with doppelgängers, ghostly subs collectors, double moons, and an unshakeable love bond born out of two eight year olds fleetingly holding hands once.
Perhaps that is the message - make up your own story and explanations. Perhaps I am too superficial to appreciate the depth of the existential riddle so beautifully half-painted.
But it left me feeling that the author was laughing at me in a kind of Emperors New Clothes kind of way. Is this deeply meaningful prose with a vital message? No. The emperor is naked.
There are passages of delightful writing, so the book does not get a 1 from me. Much of the narration is grating, but there are snippets of quality, so the performance does not get a 1 either.
45 hours is a long time to wait for something to get off the launch pad. It is worse when you stick with it to the end and only then realise there was never really any attempt to launch.
"Novels just don't get any better than this..."
This is a complex, mysterious, intriguing story. Fanciful - yes. If you're not prepared to suspend disbelief in a novel, then you won't like it. Otherwise - it's an imaginative tour de force. It's long though. If you haven't read any Murakami before, better to start with Norwegian Wood, Kafka on the Shore, or South of the Border, West of the Sun. If you like those .. you'll LOVE this!
Aomame - the ultimate assassin
Nuanced, with an appropriate accent. The pace seems slow at first - but matches the careful tone & semi-magical elements of Murakami's storyline perfectly.
Modern Japan meets Franz Kafka .. can I please help with the sound track?!!
Haruki Murakami is simply one of the best living novelists - I was moved to write this after seeing some negative reviews. Don't be put off by them - and don't miss out on his novels, if you've never read one. He's a spectacular writer!
"Unapologetically rambling and surreal"
This isn't a book for people who like every loose end neatly tied up, and every mechanism explained. I don't level that as a criticism - Groundhog Day for instance doesn't make any effort to supply a reason for anything happening, and it's all the better for it.
There are many surreal passages, partly the events, partly I suspect the alien nature of the culture being described (alien to me, anyway). Looked at coldly, there's a fair bit of repetition, but this has a hypnotic, layered and atmospheric effect.
The three narrators give great performances, with light Japanese accents that remain easy to understand but underscore the location.\
There's hardly any point in attempting to describe the plot, but there are many satisfying moments, built out of apparently nothing, yet still leaving a mark.
A last warning; if you're out and about, make absolutely certain you have your headphones plugged in. There are quite a few sex scenes that although not gratuitous or pointlessly foul-mouthed, are explicit enough that you wouldn't want them broadcast in the queue at Tesco.
"Too slow for me"
Seems an ok storyline but the pace and the narrator just don't work for me, got a couple of hours into it but have given up. Could well be as good as its reported to be but it doesn't work for me as a story for driving to.
"Long - but kept me interested"
OK - so we have this 1Q84 universe and well - I expected more from the science - but the charaterisation and strory was pretty interesting - an insite into Japanese Westernised culture and quite fun. Worht a listen for sure.
"Disappointing and Overlong"
I can see that this novel has some literary merit and I imagine that it has a greater significance in the cultural context of Japan. However, I found it a very disappointing audiobook. There is a story in there but it is far too long and embraces too much trivial and unnecessary detail. What might have been an epic was rather more of a bore. It was also spoilt by the narration - in particular, the female narrator seemed to treat the task as though it were a remedial reading class in primary school and I found her tone and delivery very irritating. I love audiobooks and this is the first one I have found disappointing.
If you like Murakami you will love this long, engaging and magical book. The characters, even the minor ones, are all interesting and original and draw you to them. Some of the professional reviewers said that the plot sagged in places but I did not find this and it maintained my interest throughout. The narration, while not quite of the quality of that of Wind Up Bird, does do the book justice. I did find, however, that in parts Allison Hiroto used the same intonation repeatedly (you'll recognise it when you hear it) and it just jarred a little. If you want a long, leisurely read and a gripping story full of
imagination, drama and surprise then read it. Sex scenes sometimes hilarious!
I've got through about six hours of this but am giving up- the narration goes from bland emotionless male narrator to 'bedtime story for six year olds' female narrator. I was willing to put up with it until the female character started to recap earlier events; they weren't that interesting the first time round.
"I don't understand the hype..."
I was a victim of the enormous publicity surrounding the English release of Murakami's fantasy epic but found it overly long, tedious and repetitive. In my opinion the story''s mystery pales in comparison to the mystery of it's popularity.
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