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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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Keia
  • Maryland
  • 07-21-12

Modern Day Fairytale

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

Phantasmagoric, lyrical, ethereal

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

Alice in Wonderland

Have you listened to any of the narrators???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but the characters are cast beautifully

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When the two main characters finally see each other after 20 years. Its very tender and sweet.

Any additional comments?

1Q84 an excellent book with one foot in fantasy and another in modern reality. It's not overly sentimental and you can feel the pull a long forgotten magical past balanced by the drag of modern life. While it is a long read there isn't a lot of time spent being consumed by past deeds and it moves along at a consistent pace.

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  • Brendan
  • Hamamatsu, Japan
  • 07-10-12

It's quite normal to be strange ...

This book was a huge hit in Japan although many Japanese readers don't know what to make of this guy: "He writes like a Westerner in translation", they claim, and it is true that Murakami is equally well known over here as a translator. He is an elusive figure, choosing to live in New York, and refusing to appear on Japanese TV. He says he wants to be able to walk the streets of Tokyo without being recognized. Given the frenzy that surrounds even minor celebrities in Japan, that makes sense. He has long been disdained by the Japanese literary elite but he sells more books than any of them, not only in this country but overseas as well. Few contemporary Japanese authors are read in other countries but it seems everything Murakami writes is almost simultaneously rendered into English and then other languages. In this case, parts 1 and 2 were started by one translator and part 3 embarked upon by another so that the whole work could appear as a single volume. Was Murakami helpful? Not really. The two translators (both resident Americans) got together from time to time to keep the whole rambling work more or less even in tone. One would have to say they did a good job considering how elliptic the Japanese language can be (many sentences have no subjects, verbs can be elusive and vague, often you can't tell who is speaking: what the hell is going on?) and consequently the work comes across more sharply in English than it does in the original Japanese. (OK, OK I got through about 5 pages of the Japanese original before turning to the English where everything started to make better sense). Murakami is obviously a force to be reckoned with in spite of the muted weirdness and recurring obsessions which come out in all of his books -- but he is not about to explain any of this. Take it or leave it. In an impressed but puzzled sort of way, we do.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A masterpiece - a work of art

Where does 1Q84 rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is a great story playing with the magic between fiction and reality in a convincing way, exciting too with mystery, action and (strangely) a lot of realism. Fascinating. The narrators are wonderful, they give the text a meaning beyond the written word. Great work!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Is There an Abridged Version?

What would have made 1Q84 better?

Cut out the endless repetition. Likeable characters and an interesting plot would help.

What could the authors have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

There was not much I liked in this book.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

I think the narration was OK.

You didn???t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

No

Any additional comments?

I was drawn to this book by the Audible's recommendation, the title, and the suggested linkage to Orwell's 1984. Even though Orwell's book is mentioned a few times in this book, there are no similarities between the two stories.

This is a long book, and I think that long audio books tend to be more successful because readers feel they will get more bang for their buck. That is not always the case.

The story itself was slow to develop, as one might expect from a book that is over 46 hours long. However, 10 hours in, I started to suspect that the story would never become interesting to me, and another 10 virtually sealed the deal. I wound up playing it whenever I could, just to get it over with. After an investment of 20 hours, I really had no choice.

None of the characters were appealing. Flawed characters are great, but none of the characters in this story had any redeeming qualities. Their decisions were often inexplicable, and their actions morally ambiguous at best. This brings up the question, what is the moral of the story anyway?

Anyone considering this book should definitely look for an abridged version. I am not exaggerating when I say that the author repeated parts of the story three, four, five, or even more times. I have learned that this was originally released in three volumes, but that doesn???t explain why the author would repeat things, mundane things at that, within paragraphs of each other. If an abridged version were to cut the repetition of story events by half, it could knock 10 hours off of the length of this story. I???m not kidding. Ten hours. Toward the end, I actually repeated events along with the narration to entertain myself. It was that predictable.

The author???s style is, in my opinion anyway, overly descriptive. This increased the feeling that the story was dragging on. The author seemed intent on turning a short story into an epic. The ending of the story was mercifully brief, though very predictable and mundane. I know some people liked the story, some even loved it. To each his own, but for me, the plot was lame and the characters were lame. Even the sex was lame. Hall of fame narrators couldn???t have saved this book, and these were not hall of fame narrators. I???ve lost count of the audiobooks I???ve listened to, but it has to be near triple digits, and this is absolutely within the bottom 3 of them.

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Well Done

A great Listen. I really enjoyed it diving into this. Nicely translated and well preformed.

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  • psnorb
  • Northwest Chicago Suburb, United States
  • 06-20-12

I felt compelled to finish and then disappointed.

I review few books that I listen too. Usually for very positive or negative reasons. Unfortunately this is for the later type. The book had so much potential that was left unfulfilled. I was left wanting about a number of topics in the book the moon, the little people, the air crysalis, the cult directed by a leader who knows of the future.

The book was very long and gave me few answers about the topics above that I wanted to hear about and kept repeating facts that I did not want to hear over and over again. So much time was spent discussing the activities of the fee collector, the womans fetish about the shape of older men's heads, and how perfectly trained the woman was. If I am reading a trilogy some information needs to be repeated in each book of the trilogy. In a single book I see little reason to repeat such information over and over again. This book would have been much better if the energy had been used to further describe some of the topics in the paragraph above.

I thought the book started off slowly, gained speed, became interesting and then lost steam about 2/3 through. I then turned up the speed on my IPHONE APT and finished the book a bit disappointed.

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Uncertain, vaguely disquieted

What made the experience of listening to 1Q84 the most enjoyable?

Murakami keeps my attention when he writes of normal daily activities. I can' explain why, but his stories are always soothing to listen to completely apart from any emotional or intellectual feelings I have about the story. This story has the same affect. I like his characters. I think.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

I was left feeling like I should read Proust. Also, left feeling a bit like the ending of the movie Blade Runner (vs. the story Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep) when the protagonist seems to escape. And the end of Brazil.

Which character ??? as performed by the narrators ??? was your favorite?

I liked Tengo the best. I liked his gentle nature, his the way he floated through his life.

Who was the most memorable character of 1Q84 and why?

The second moon was the most memorable character, because so much of the story revolved around it. It's challenging to say much more without revealing plot points.

Any additional comments?

I am not sure what to do with this book. How to incorporate it. I think I have to read (listen) to it again.

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Japanese fantasy with great characters & narration

What did you love best about 1Q84?

The character development and their voices.

What was one of the most memorable moments of 1Q84?

The imagery related to the moon(s)

What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

Multiple narrator's with wonderful acting ability.

Who was the most memorable character of 1Q84 and why?

Tamaru with his quiet and controlled power and insight and difficult upbringing.

Any additional comments?

This book is delightfully rare (almost unique) in its style of relating a story through multiple character's voices sequentially. This aspect is similar to The Help.

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  • Dean
  • IRVINE, CALIFORNIA, United States
  • 06-10-12

Long and compelling, but don't expect a payoff

A very long, slow, drawn out narrative, but done with expert pacing and good characterization. One warning I will give if you're not familiar with Murakami: there are a lot of questions and mysteries set up in the story that never really get resolved or made more clear. You never find out quite what the little people are, or what the motivations of many of the characters are. Know that there is no "payoff" at the end. If you can enjoy the story for what it is during the middle and appreciate Murakami's attention to momentary detail without feeling disastified with the lack of a conclusion, then you'll enjoy this. If you like action and compelling plots, this will be a very frustrating book for you.

It's hard to say if you'll enjoy Murakami's style or not, since it is definitely not for everyone. If you would like to know if you'd enjoy this story, I would recommend listening to Murakami's short stoy "The Elephant Vanishes", which I believe is available for free on Audible. That will give you a sense if you will enjoy the tone and pacing of this much longer narrative.

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Murakami delivered!

Where does 1Q84 rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

1Q84 was best and most engrossing audiobook I have listened to thus far. I listened at times I normally would have been listening to podcasts and music because I was so loathe to wait to hear more.

What did you like best about this story?

The story is well crafted, classic Murakami. I might call it his masterwork.