Friday, December 16, 2011

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

1Q841Q84 by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my favorite of the Murakami books I've read (and I've read about half). Where I sometimes feel distant from or frustrated with his characters, I loved Aomame and Tengo, as well as several of the characters in their periphery. I loved the alternate reality. I loved how music permeated everything, and I listened to the works mentioned during most of my reading of the book (it starts with Janacek and moves through Haydn 'cello sonatas before touching on the St. Matthew Passion and Horowitz's piano playing). I loved the way the story was told, alternating points of view with trailing threads between - it was mastery.

The usual silly themes of spaghetti and cats were present, but what Murakami does with cats in this book has to be read to be believed.

The only thing I'm not sure about is the little people... that whole idea wasn't resolved to my satisfaction. From what I've read in interviews with the author, they just showed up one day, and I'm not sure he knew what to do with them either.

"Aomame said, 'Even if things were the same, people's perception of things might have been very different back then. The darkness of night was probably deeper then, so the moon must have been that much bigger and brighter. And of course people didn't have records or tapes or CDs. They couldn't hear proper performances of music anytime they liked; it was always something special.'
'I'm sure you're right,' the dowager said. 'Things are so convenient for us these days, our perceptions are probably that much duller. Even if it's the same moon hanging in the sky, we may be looking at something quite different. Four hundred years ago, we might have had richer spirits that were closer to nature."

The next time I read a Murakami book, I simply must try Kafka on the Shore. I've heard it has a librarian.  I wonder if it would be like 1Q84, where I took breaks in reading so I wouldn't finish too quickly.


  1. Jenny, sounds like we often have similar taste. 1Q84 is also my favorite by Murakami, and I'm happy to read a very positive review about it, tired to see that most readers stop at details, and let a couple of strange trees hide the beauty of the whole forest.
    I believe you know already about my review, but for your readers, here is the link:

  2. Hey Jenny, I've been trying to talk one of my reading groups into reading The Wind-Up Chronicle. How does that one rank in your Murakami scale? It is (or was, prior to 1Q84's publication) the highest rated Murakami on GoodReads, I think.

  3. The Wind-Up Chronicle was my first Murakami experience, and my favorite up until now.

  4. You make a good point about Tengo and Aomame - I think that they are Murakami's best fleshed out characters. For that reason, and many others, I loved 1Q84, although my quibbles are that I also wished there was a bit more about the little people, and I didn't think that the third section was up to the level of the first two sections. It's always tough when the ending doesn't live up to the expectations set by the beginning, but i'm trying not to let the strange trees (as wordsandpeace put it) hide the greatness of the book a whole.

    Another good Murakami work reading is After Dark. It's a smaller novel so tends to get lost in the shuffle, but IMO it stands up with the best of his work. More thoughts here.

  5. @gibsonmeigs - I agree, the way everything wrapped up was just not really to wrap anything up! The Little People... the third person... the magical birth... argh!

    I haven't yet read After Dark, but I definitely will now, so thanks.


Thanks for visiting the Reading Envy blog and podcast. Word verification has become necessary because of spam.