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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)

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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!

22 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Amanda
  • Phoenix, AZ, United States
  • 11-06-11

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.

161 of 175 people found this review helpful

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  • Grant
  • NANTUCKET, MA, United States
  • 03-29-12

This again???

If you've read one story about a female exercise therapist/hitman, looking for random casual sex while searching for the man of her dreams, who enters a parallel existence with two moons in the sky only to kill the leader of a religious cult that hears voices from little people who come out of a dead goat's mouth and make duplicate copies of people, you've read them all.

Seriously, if you like weird, and I do, you'll like this.

100 of 109 people found this review helpful

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  • Dr.
  • Lake Oswego, OR, United States
  • 05-21-12

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.

35 of 38 people found this review helpful

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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!

52 of 57 people found this review helpful

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Not a bad story...desperately needed an editor

I am not averse to listening to long books. I have made it through both "War and Peace" and "Atlas Shrugged". In the hands of good narrators even the longest books are a pleasure.

This, however, is only a fair story. And a pretty common one as science fiction goes. There's a mystery that ties together a couple of main characters. Their stories run parallel for a while then the stories intersect. In some places I could see the next scene coming a mile away. But all in all, it's not a bad story. A good editor would have made this a great story and cut down at least 30% of the text.

But the narrators really spoiled this for me. For some reason, the female character's tale is told at an excruciatingly slow pace. At times I sped this up to double speed, something I have never done, in an effort to move things along. Even at double speed I wanted to reach into the recording and shake this narrator and scream, "All right already, get on with it!" The male readers are almost as bad. Seriously...where was the production director on this one?

Can't recommend this audio. Get the print edition and skip liberally through this tale.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Three books in one

In Japan this was released in three volumes. Book One and Two in 2009 and book three in 2010. Once you have listened to the books you can see why the U.S. decided to release it as one book. Book one ends right in the middle of the story and it is not a stand alone book.

Book One I would give five stars too. It was very well written, had some very quirky characters and several surprises. It was so engaging that when I was trying to decide what exit to take to get my coffee, the book decided for me, cause I passed right by my first option without knowing it. One bit of wisdom in book one, " There are certain meanings that are lost forever once they are explained."

Book Two, was good and I would give 4 and a half stars. Less happens in this book and there is a lot more wisdom dished out. This is kind of a book in a book and HM reviews his own book. In this book he justifies why he writes the way he does. Many may disagree with his justification. One bit of wisdom I liked was "If you don't understand without an explanation, you won't understand with an explanation." This was aimed at us the readers.

Book Three gets three stars. In book three we are introduced to a new character who adds nothing to the story, nothing happens and the ending is very cheesy. Most of this book was painful to listen to, it was so boring.

The whole theme to the books seems to be that we are all lonely and nobody has a normal childhood.

The male narrator is good and the female sounds like she is reading a children's book to children.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Tollhouse
  • Red Bank, NJ, United States
  • 07-13-12

Total Exercise in Frustration

I read other reviewers who gave up on this book up after 30 hours; I don't know how they got that far, let alone finished it. The snail's pace of the narrator was excrutiating, and the repetitive minutiae drove me insane. I pulled the plug after 2 hours.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Hanna
  • United States
  • 12-01-11

Skip it

I was disappointed by this book. I really enjoyed The Windup Bird Chronicle and was hoping for more of the same, but 1Q84 tried too hard to evoke Orwell's 1984. Also, Allison Hiroto's narration is terrible: she sounds like she's reading an info-mertial and she gives all the male characters the same staccato, monotone. The male narrators are okay.
I usually like really long books, but this one was way to long and included a lot of unnecessary repetition (of things that were said about two sentences before) and detail that doesn't add to the story.
There are too many mysteries presented that allude to some greater meaning-to-be-explained that are never resolved and don't actually mean anything.

59 of 68 people found this review helpful

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  • Donna
  • United States
  • 11-10-11

Interesting, worthwhile read

If you could sum up 1Q84 in three words, what would they be?

Surreal. Interesting. Long.

What other book might you compare 1Q84 to and why?

I've never read any other book like this.

What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narrator spoke Wayyyyy too slowly. I wanted to yell,

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

There's really only one reality...but what is it?

Any additional comments?

I would recommend this book to someone who has patience and is not looking for a fast-paced or suspense -filled story. It was very long but I finished it without regret.

35 of 40 people found this review helpful