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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"I struggled to the end..."
Before I downloaded this I only seem to have seen 4 or 5 star reviews, so gave it a chance. I have never read any of Murakami's work before nor indeed much if any Japanese literature. About half way through the first of the 6 downloads I nearly gave up, and only the thought of having so much unlistened-to material on my iPod made me carry on. As other reviewers have noted, Alison Hiroto's voice is incredibly irritating - and I also found the two male voices very soporific. There seemed to be one chapter of plot development followed by many chapters of minutiae about the characters' backgrounds and sex lives (note to author - just far too much information!) and quite a lot of worryingly detailed thoughts about what came across as virtually porn or paedophilia. There were inconsistencies in characterisation too which made for further irritation. The plot, such as it was, just seemed to fizzle out, and I was left having listened to countless hours, feeling somehow cheated. Can't recommend it.
"Good but some parts waffle on for way too long"
I only like long books so this was a godsend. But....
The problem is the book goes on, and on, and on. Sometimes with 30 minute chapters with characters talking about nothing in particular. At one point one the character is cooking a snack. The process of cooking the meal is described in such excruciating detail that I thought I was listening to Delia Smith talking about cooking her favourite recipe.
I had no problem with the narrators, I thought they were pretty good. Allison reminded me a little of the voice of GladOS from the Portal game but it wasn't too off putting.
I can't really knock the story because it is engrossing, but it is 20 hours to long in my opinion.
"A very very very long listen!"
I read all of Murakami's stuff. The latest trend is to criticise him for being a bit predictable and always including cats etc. However, up until now I've loved every story and book I've read by him (and I've read nearly all of them.) This new Proustian epic is perhaps a sign that he is getting complacent.
Listening to it is a strange experience as it is so long, you get involved with the characters and start to see the world with their eyes. It sets up nicely... but towards the middle you start to wonder if it's going anywhere. Unfortunately Murakami's aim was to make it as long-winded as possible. It does have narrative hooks, but they sort of dwindle and peter out to make way for new ones without ever resolving anything. Things do get resolved in a way in the end... but by that time I was almost to the point of not caring what happened to the characters - I just wanted to be released from this mind-numbingly slow book.
I hope the next one is a book of short stories. That's what he does best.
"Which world are you?"
A female assassin is late for a job, so she gets out the taxi and heads down a shortcut that changes her life. A 17 year old dyslexic girl narrates a story to her friend to send into a competition and a money grabbing editor, asks his friend to polish it up, so it is guaranteed first prize.
On publishing the story, the lives of the girl, the writer and the assassin become interlinked as a mysterious sect aims to stop production runs for fear of their secret being exposed.
"It starts slow and then, miraculously, it gets..."
...even slower; by the end, and by that I mean all of the third volume, it is practically inert. At 300 pages, this novel might have been a rather wonderful and strange tale: at nearly 1,000, it is all that the more negative reviews on here describe. I bought it on an Audible sale (how good are they!) and I got through it by telling myself I would never have to read another Murikami novel again.
I have read others so would say to those who want to try him, go for the shorter works like Norwegian Woods or the short stories. Don't go to 1Q84. The very air seems to disappear as you read it.
The female reader is particularly annoying, flat and affected, which doesn't help.
That said, Murikami has great taste in music and literature. Now and then, one of his narrators references Janacek or Ellington or reads an extract from Chekhov or Isak Dinesen, and we glimpse a better world. Follow them there, dear listener.
Elegant, fascinating. I worried initially about the length, but it was well narrated and absorbing. I loved the fascinating details of Japanese culture and the daily life details such as the food being prepared. The phrases, how do you write your name, not spell your name. Its a great and strange tale. Strongly recommended.
"An interesting story"
I would have given this book more stars if it hadn't been so very, very long! Don't get me wrong. I love long books, but this was only long because of the continual repetitions. They become very irritating and I found myself actually telling the author, out loud, to get on with it and stop repeating everything. An abridged version, just cutting out the repeats would be loads better. At almost every conversation between the two main characters, every time one of them says something, the other one repeats it. It is SO annoying!
this book had me hooked after about 20 minutes. its a love story between two people that spans two different parallell worlds. The narration is brilliant and each character is alive and you get to know them and there ways. An amazing book which i have to admit kept me away from the tv and up late until the end. I have added more books by the author for download when subs go out. cant wait tv boring anyway.
I initially thought this was a little slow at times, although I soon realised that the pace was actually a very relaxing read. The amount of detail, which initially seemed too much was actually waranted and allowed me to settle back and be taken on a journey while I listened. All in all, I found this both an interesting and leisurely read.
"An Amazing Masterpiece"
Murakami is one of the great writers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. His existential and mystic literary style enables a deep and penetrating insight into the nature of human beings and their relationship to their internal worlds and the worlds of some others about them. This is a love story which has a strong narrative drive and has the deepest insights concerning the compulsion of love. The descriptions of even the minor characters are finely drawn and as human as our closest friends. In this respect Murakami is as rich as Dickens in his characters but without the stage makeup.
Well read by a thoughtful and well chosen team and deserving all the time that you can spare to listen, reflect and listen again.
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