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Publisher's Summary

Earphones Award Winner (AudioFile Magazine)

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 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, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"This imaginative, lengthy novel satisfies as a mystery, fantasy, and humorous coming-of-age tale—all blended with the vagaries of love and loss in a dystopia mired in strange cults and mathematical/musical dreamscapes. One surmises that it's no accident that the book's enigmatic title relates to George Orwell's 1984." (AudioFile)

“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)

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)

Featured Article: 10 Great Contemporary Fiction Authors


If you like well-written novels that prioritize compelling timely storylines with artful prose and structure, then this is the genre for you. So, why is it called "contemporary"? Because it’s fiction set in the real world, in times contemporary to the date it was published, and the stories deal with real-world issues. Representing a diversity of backgrounds and nationalities, here are our picks for the best writers of contemporary fiction over the last 50 years.

What listeners say about 1Q84

Average Customer Ratings
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    4,491
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    2,688
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    2,194
  • 3 Stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I've never read a book quite like this one

I'm always in search of the longest audiobooks I can find, since I usually read both my credits' worth before the end of the month. At almost 47 hours, this one fit the bill and had excellent reviews so I gave it a shot even though I wasn't familiar with the author or book. I'm glad I did. The book (I think it was originally 3 books in Japan) kept me absorbed from beginning to end. It's a very unique idea and I loved the story-within-a-story aspect. Interestingly, nearly all the characters are kind of one-dimensional, from a traditional literary point of view. The characters don't change much from the beginning to the end, which is something I was always taught to avoid in writing, but it works here because (without giving spoilers) the story itself changes around the characters. Instead of the world being stable and the characters moving through it, the characters are the fixed point of reference. Because it's just a little off traditional storytelling techniques, it makes the story feel unique above and beyond the plot itself.

The writing is also vivid and excellent. It's the type of writing where you have to pause occasionally and really take in a phrase that hits you just the right way. Another reviewer commented on the phrase "shaken his heart from a strange angle," which is one that I loved, too. I was also very taken with the phrase "Bright words make the eardrums vibrate brightly." It's such an odd phrase, when looked at literally, but you instinctively know what it means. The whole book is peppered with that kind of language. The author, obviously, takes primary responsibility for this, but the translators also did a great job. I'm not really sure how the translation process works, but I suspect there were spots where they added small explanations to ease the reading of unfamiliar concepts. They also did a great job with the occasional idiom or slang word. It was so well-done that I felt less culture-shock than I have with some books that are written in English to begin with. (There's a bonus interview with the narrators at the end if you want to hear their perspective.)

There are a couple of things that I disliked. The first was, as others have mentioned, the female narrator. It was kind of bizarre - when she is voicing the main character she does fine. She has a pleasant voice that effectively conveyed emotion. When she was voicing some of the other characters, however, it's almost like instead of changing the timbre of her voice she just changed how slowly she talked. The elderly dowager, in particular, sounded similar to a computer reading text. Her speech was very slow, oddly emphasized, and emotionless. In some books with a narrator that talks too slowly I just speed up the playback, but it wasn't possible since the slow alternated with normal speech. My other complaint is that I would have liked it to be about 30 minutes longer and tell us what happened concerning a few supporting plotlines. I'm not saying that every loose end needs to be tied up - I think this is a cultural thing because I've noticed that American books and movies tend to completely resolve all stories and foreign ones don't... I ordinarily accept it as part of the style. But the way it was written, several secondary storylines were building towards a climax and then just disappeared. It felt like when you think you're going to sneeze and then you don't. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll give a made up example: It would be like saying that someone's dog had run away and they got a call from the pound saying there was a dog that might be theirs so they get in the car and go to the pound, and then the story switches to another character and never comes back to tell you if the dog was theirs or not.

Despite my two small complaints, the book is undoubtedly one of the best I've listened to recently and (especially if you like long books) you should not hesitate before getting and reading this book!

177 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Surreal. In other words...

This was a strange one. I was never bored, but the ending was not very compelling. A bit anti-climactic. There is a bit of sex throughout the book, so listen responsibly, kiddies!
I really enjoyed the narration. Both of the main narrators were soothing and gentle, and the third introduced late in the book was also very good.
Now, on to the biggest problem with this book. As many reviewers have pointed out, this book is repetitive. Here is an example (don't worry, it's not actual dialogue, just my impression of a typical conversation)
A: Are you hungry?
B: No, I already ate.
A: You already ate.
B: Yes
A:In other words, you put something in your mouth, chewed and swallowed?
B:That's right.
A: Was it good?
B: It was good.
A: In other words, You enjoyed it?
B: Yes.
A:Yes?
B: Yes.
A. In other words, you are stating an affirmative?
B:Yes.

This kind of conversation happened so many times, it may be responsible for an eighth of this book's length.
Though the story had some extremely moving moments, they were few and far between. It was different, though, that's for sure. My final analysis, the long journey is better than the destination.

64 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Lovely but missing resolutions....

What did you like best about 1Q84? What did you like least?

There are so many unanswered questions!!! Next to nothing was explained. I understand that the point overall is the enduring all encompassing love, but just have so many questions. What in the world were the little people? What was their purpose? What was the Voice? What in the F???? I was disappointed that nothing at all was explained about the world of 1Q84. The love between Tengo/Aomame was touching but I wanted a more in-depth trip into this strange world of 1Q84 and did not get it.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

The performance was rather good for all narrators. Despite the insanely long passages they kept me interested.

Was 1Q84 worth the listening time?

Only if you go in knowing THIS IS A LOVE STORY - not really heavy on sci-fi fun/action/fantasy.

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Just don't

I never write out reviews but I feel like I have to caution people to never get this, even if you like the author or think the book sounds interesting. In principle I am against the idea of abridged audiobooks but this is a book that probably could've really used one. This book is known for being extremely slow and repetitive: Mundane details are described repeatedly in quick succession in similar terms, details from a paragraph ago are repeatedly referred back to in the most verbose and explicit way, characters constantly repeat each other and spend long amounts of time having inner monologues about utterly pointless stuff, etc. For instance in one section of the book, a character is going to buy a potted plant, but not just any potted plant, it's always "the potted plant that Aomame saw when she went to the store and meant to buy a goldfish, which she bought instead of the goldfish she went to the store to get, the store where she bought the potted plant instead of the goldfish blah blah blah." Literally the entire book is written like this, it's insane. While I suppose you could view that as a legitimate and valid stylistic choice for the author of the novel to have deliberately made (though personally I have no idea what he was even trying to accomplish by writing like this, it serves no purpose that I can see and just makes the novel worse for seemingly no reason), in audiobook form it is simply agonizing to listen to. It doesn't help that the narrator of the Aomame (the worst and least comprehensible character in the novel, since Murakami is laughably terrible at writing women) portions of the novel reads everything as slow as possible, in this weird almost baby talk voice for some reason? Seriously just listen to the provided audio sample and ask yourself if you can listen to that ("her laygs were da part of her botty she was DA MOST pwoud of") for like 20 hours because it made me want to tear my hair out whenever she was narrating. In a twisted way her narration and voice actually fits the character pretty well, in the sense that the narration is exactly as excruciatingly tedious and annoying as I would find Aomame herself if she were a real person. The other two narrators would be more or less fine if they were reading a different novel, though the Usikawa narrator does the loud whisper thing from detective/noir type movies but for all of his narration and dialogue, it fits I guess but I am not sure that it was really necessary to be doing it literally the entire time. I do recognize the narrator of the Tengo portions from other audiobooks, and he is as good here as he normally is, except for the fact that for some reason they didn't tell him how a lot of these Japanese words and names are actually pronounced or correct his mispronunciations, even though the other two narrators always got the pronunciations correct to my memory.

As for the book itself, the premise (once Murakami can finally be bothered to explain it about a third of the way into the book) is that a feminist assassin who targets abusive men is accidentally sucked into an alternate darker timeline, along with her long lost first love who unwittingly finds himself tangled in a conspiracy involving an underground sex cult that gets its religion from interdimensional hobbits. I don't know whether to be angry or impressed that Murakami was able to make a book about that as dull and uninteresting as he did. Probably that premise was not really a good idea in the first place, but in no universe or timeline should it have ever been a boring one. At best it's kind of funny sometimes when the novel is trying to take those absurd ideas really seriously, in a way that I don't think was intentional. I hated this book but I know Murakami has a lot of fans. If you're familiar with his work and can handle the length then you probably already can guess whether or not you'll like this. However DO NOT make this your first book by this author, you have to really already be onboard with his various quirks and writing habits to make it through this one. One of those "qurks" alluded to earlier being that he is really bad at writing women, to a degree that it kind of shocks me that books as misogynistic (and just plainly clueless about how women in the real world think and act) as his get published to such extreme critical acclaim and commercial success in the 21st century. And I would say that this book specifically is actually even worse about that than his other books. But if I haven't convinced you and you're still wanting to pick it up, I strongly recommend doing so in print or ebook form instead. It took me over 46 excruciating hours to listen to this entire thing, but with the way the book is written, and the way this is narrated, you could read the print version much faster and have a less frustrating experience with the story.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Er.... Unusual

1Q84 lives along the thin line between mysticism and spiritualism. It is a fantastical adventure through the author's musings about how emotions create reality. I don't know if it is the translators or the author but I did not get the sense that I was allowed to sink into the Japanese culture, but rather cruise a Europeanized/Americanized filtered vision of what might be Japan. It's disconcerting enough to break the reader's mood as are the too frequent allusions and name droppings of stuff the author's read. A couple of times I wondered if perhaps there was a bit of pretension here and there.

Now, do I recommend 1Q84... Well, yeah, I guess. But more for the plot than the blizzard of symbols and allegorical references. The story's compelling... haunting... hypnotic. And well... unusual. You know what? This very long novel is worth the time. I'll think about it... and perhaps feel about it... for a good long time. Which is what I'm thinking this whole experience was :-)

30 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

I could not take any more...

I feel as if I could write an entire novel about how bad this book is. But I want whoever reads this review to get my main point quickly.
The writing is trite and made almost infinitely more trite by the female narrator.

Take overly wordy and BORING writing and have a 1st grade teacher read it aloud as if she were reading to her 1st grade class. Tone, inflection, insane dedication to precise and elongated enunciation of every single syllable in every single mundane word! Even the sex scenes sounded like they was being read to children at story time.

I had to stop listening after 12 hours worth (which I NEVER do) before I threw my iPod out the door then ran over it, two times, and set it on fire.

I see loads of great reviews for this book, which is a big part of why I wasted my credit on it, but holy moly,I do not understand how educated people good have enjoyed this. Sorry.

30 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Oddly Mesmerizing

What did you like about this audiobook?

I wouldn't listen to this again as it is very long. However, 1Q84 is an oddly mesmerizing tale of two people who find themselves in a parallel world where things are slightly askew.

Set in Japan, the book was imaginative and I found that I was fully immersed in the interesting world and Japanese culture that Murakami created.

While the book could have been shorter and left me with a lot of unanswered questions, I find that I'm still thinking about it even a week later.

Narrated by three people, at first I found the female voice a little irritating; but I came to think that she was ideal for the character.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

WOW, WOW, WOW.

This was my first book by Haruki Murakami, and it was an extraordinary experience. At one point in the book, while discussing one of the main characters, it states that something "Had shaken his heart from a strange angle". And I think that's a good description of how this book affected me. It shook my heart from a strange angle.

I've never read a book quite like this one; it was unique. It has a certain moral ambiguity to it, especially in the first half. This caught me off guard and was unsettling, but it did fade to a much lesser issue as the story progressed.

The story weaves common threads throughout the book; opening up questions on themes of loneliness, the vacuums left by people or loss (and whether these can or should be filled), both the damage and comfort of religion, how our childhood scars affect us as adults (and how much power we should allow them to have) and the very thin line - the delicate balance - between Right and Wrong, Good and Bad.

Mostly, however, the book is a deep mystery that pulls you into it's dark running current and carries you along. I know some of the other reviews did not appreciate or enjoy Ms. Hiroto's narration, but I loved it and couldn't imagine the story without it. I thought it was exquisite, as was the performance of the other narrators as well.

The stunning, stark, simple honesty that was the hallmark of any conversation held by the character of Tengo was my favorite aspect of the book. It's hard to describe, but the character always speaks and replies to questions with no pretense, no pride... it really impacted me.

Especially towards the second half of the book, there were sudden twists of humor that were a welcome gift; inspiring short, unexpected guffaws.

Yes, the book can be unsettling on many levels; but it's also very impactful. I'll never forget my time in 1Q84, under the two moons.

228 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Slow, Strange, and (ultimately) Satisfying

I have been a Murakami fan for years and I have listened to many of his other titles. I waited months before listening to 1Q84 because I was reluctant to spend weeks listening to a single book. When I did listen to it I often questioned my judgment because the story is SO SLOW. When you have over 46 hours to tell a story, an author has a lot of time on his hands. In spite of this reservation, I want to acknowledge that Murakami is such a gifted writer that he uses that time to richly develop and explore the lives of the two main characters.

True to form, Murakami works his magic and finds a way to draw the listener in to his strange world. By the end of this book I was finally intrigued and I looked forward to the last 8 hours (!). Ultimately, it was satisfying. I must admit, however, when I turned off this book for the last time, I asked myself if this was the best use of my 46 hours, 50 minutes. Interestingly, since I finished this book weeks ago, I have thought about it very little.

For those who are curious about Murakami but are reluctant to start a book of this length, I would recommend some of this other titles - especially Kafka by the Shore or Norwegian Wood.

63 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Hard to Find Fault

This is one of those books that have been getting rave reviews from bibliophile or rather anyone who is a fan of modern literature. The book appealed to me for a number of reasons but for some strange reason I never got around to give it a try until recently. I wasn't disappointed...

The first thing you find right off the bat is how well Haruki Murakami is able to use words to paint a picture. And I am no referring to a half baked imagery that leaves you to fill in the blanks but he fully attempts to describe the scenery in such a way that your entire senses seem to be a part of it. This can cause someone to get impatient and skip past these moments and lose one of the things that make this novel really special.... that amazing attention to detail.

Keep in mind whilst going through this novel that originally this was actually three books. 1Q84 was actually released as three separate books (Book 1, Book 2 and Book 3) and so while it might seem really long, keeping in mind that it originally was three separate books it's actually pretty normal in terms of length (and also bang for your buck seeing that you're buying three books in one). This is one of those books where patience is a good thing, just sit back and enjoy the ride, don't watch the hours spent going through the book just enjoy the actual journey. I can assure you by the time the book actually ends you will be begging for more once you really allow yourself to enjoy it.

1Q84 is, at worst, one of the most imaginative story lines I have ever really come across. Haruki Murakami weaves an elaborate and immaculate storyline with interesting, flawed characters each with their own back story. Even these minor characters are developed in a way that leaves you feeling satisfied in the end. I am seriously impressed as to how Haruki Murakami came up with the storyline and the time and energy that was invested in creating this piece of work, if this is the style of Japanese writers I would hope that more can be translated to English.

The narration in this book takes some getting used to, especially the voice of Allison Hiroto which can quite literally put you to sleep with how soft and gentle it comes off. After an hour or two though all the voices just seem to lay on you like high quality satin sheets (another sleep reference but without it actually putting you to sleep). Once the story picks up you get gripped and caught up with the way the narrators still seem to be so patient in their delivery but yet somewhat wishing they would pick up the pace. Truth be told though, you likely won't increase the tempo at this point because you would have gotten so used to the pace you won't mind it at all.

I truly can just go on and on about this book for the mere fact that it was done so exceptionally well. When I can write a review this long it means I either really enjoyed or really disliked it... and this book.... I LOVED!

74 people found this helpful