Book Review : 1Q84

★  Avoid        ★★  No Great Loss       ★★★ Worth Reading       ★★★★  Close to Masterpiece       ★★★★★  Masterpiece

Name: 1Q84 (Book 1 -3) by Haruki Murakami
Genre: Fiction   Language: English   Pages: 925 (Hard cover)
Published: 2012
My Rating: ★★★
Started: 31st January 2013  Completed: 22nd March, 2013
Total Reading Hour: 110-130 Hrs

Surreal but Incomplete.. Descriptive but uneventful..

The title is a play on the Japanese pronunciation of the year 1984. The letter Q and the Japanese number 9 are homophones, which are often used in Japanese wordplay. The events of 1Q84 take place in Tokyo during a fictionalized 1984, with the first volume set between April and June, the second between July and September, and the third between October and December.

The book opens with Aomame as she catches a taxi in Tokyo on her way to a work assignment, noticing Janáček’s Sinfonietta playing on the radio. When the taxi gets stuck in a traffic jam, the driver suggests that she get out of the car and climb down an emergency escape in order to make her important meeting, though he warns her that doing so might change the very nature of reality. Aomame makes her way through emergency escape and she starts to have bizarre experiences, noticing new details about the world that are subtly different. She checks her memories against the archives of major newspapers and finds that there were several recent major news stories of which she has no recollection. Upon reading these articles, she concludes that she must be living in an alternate reality, which she calls “1Q84,” and suspects that she entered it about the time she heard Sinfonietta on the taxi radio.

Tengo, whose editor and mentor Komatsu asks him to rewrite an awkwardly written but promising manuscript that had been entered in a literary contest. Komatsu wants to submit the novel to a prestigious literary agency and promote its author as a new literary prodigy. He agrees to do inspite of his reservation about rewriting another author’s work but with condition of only if he can meet with the original writer, who goes by the strange pen name “Fuka-Eri”, and ask for her permission.

Story written by Fuka-Eri, real name Eriko Fukada, is somehow associated with religion commune called “Sakigake”. Leader of Sakigake commune is father of Fuka-Eri. Something happend at Sakigake commune compoud which forced Fuka-Eri to leave her parent and to join Ebisuno – her father’s old friend. Story written by Fuka-Eri is about a girl’s life in a commune, where she met a group of mystical beings, whom Fuka-Eri refers to as “Little People”. Over time, Tengo begins to suspect that the mystical events described in Fuka-Eri’s novel actually happened.

Aomame makes personal and professional relationship with an older wealthy woman , Dowager. They both have personal pasts that fuel their actions to kill men who have been viciously abusive to women and see their organized murders as one way of fighting back against severe domestic abuse. At one momemnt, The Dowager introduces Aomame to a 10-year-old girl named Tsubasa. Tsubasa and her parents have been involved with Sakigake. Tsubasa has been forcefully abused by the cult leader named only as “The Leader”. The Dowager researches Sakigake and finds that there is widespread evidence of abuse and as a result, The Dowager asks Aomame to murder the religious head of Sakigake, the Leader, who is reported to have been the abuser. In meanwhile, As Tsubasa sleeps in the safe house owned by the Dowager, the “Little People” which are mentioned in Fuka-Eri’s novel, Air Chrysalis, appear from Tsubasa’s mouth and create an air chrysalis, a type of cocoon made from strands pulled straight out of the air.

At some point, 1Q84 is also reveal relationship between Aomame and Tengo. Killing of Sakigake leader, who hears voice of Little People, by Aomame and Story rewritten by Tengo which is associated Little people push both of them in 1Q84, alternate reality.

I loved 3 characters most in the book are as below:
Aomame – One of the three point-of-view characters of the novel, Aomame is a thirty-year-old woman working as part of an enigmatic organization for which she commits carefully selected murders. As a child, she was a Jehovah’s Witness and distributed religious materials with her family on weekends.
Tengo Kawana – The second of the novel’s point-of-view characters, he is an unpublished novelist who works as a math tutor at a prep school. His mother died when he was very young; his earliest memory is of his mother in bed with a man who was not Tengo’s father. His father worked for NHK going door-to-door collecting the network’s reception fee, and he used to make Tengo go with him every Sunday.
Fuka-Eri – A slight but striking 17-year-old high school student whose manuscript, Air Chrysalis, is entered in a literary contest. She is extremely reticent, with an unusual, abrupt way of speaking, and what seems to be an apathetic view of life. She also suffers from dyslexia and struggles in school. Her pen name is taken from her real name, Eriko Fukada.

Some good lines from novel:

  • It’s just that you’re about to do something out of the ordinary. And after you do something like that, the everyday look of things might seem to change a little. Things may look different to you than they did before. But don’t let appearances fool you. There’s always only one reality.
  • Most people are not looking for provable truths. As you said, truth is often accompanied by intense pain, and almost no one is looking for painful truths. What people need is beautiful, comforting stories that make them feel as if their lives have some meaning. Which is where religion comes from.
  • If you can love someone with your whole heart, even one person, then there’s salvation in life. Even if you can’t get together with that person.
  • That’s what the world is , after all: an endless battle of contrasting memories.
  • Life is not like water. Things in life don’t necessarily flow over the shortest possible route.
  • Even if we could turn back, we’d probably never end up where we started.
  • What we call the present is given shape by an accumulation of the past.
  • It is not that the meaning cannot be explained. But there are certain meanings that are lost forever the moment they are explained in words.
  • Reality was utterly coolheaded and utterly lonely.
  • There are certain meanings that are lost forever the moment they are explained in words.
  • Our memory is made up of our individual memories and our collective memories. The two are intimately linked. And history is our collective memory. If our collective memory is taken from us – is rewritten – we lose the ability to sustain our true selves.
  • A person learns how to love himself through the simple acts of loving and being loved by someone else.
  • Knowledge and ability were tools, not things to show off.
  • The body is not the only target of rape. Violence does not always take a visible form, and not all wounds gush blood.
  • Mental acuity was never born from comfortable circumstances.
  • I’m a coward when it comes to matters of the heart. That is my fatal flaw.
  • A person’s last moments are an important thing. You can’t choose how you’re born but you can choose how you die.
  • Once you let yourself grow close to someone, cutting the ties could be painful.

Story of Little People, Air Chrysalis, Sakigake commune, cat town, love story of Aomame and Tengo, Heart bonding with no sexual desire between Tengo and Fuka-Eri, Personal and Professoinal relationship between Aomame and The Dowager makes 1Q84 extremely surreal. Like his every book, Haruki Murakami mentioned lot about classical music and novels. But opposite to his best works, this book seems incomplete. There are lots of repeatitive statement and uneventful pages which makes book heavy but not good. After reading 925 pages, you feel that book is incomplete and just normal end with lot of untouched threads. Author described all characters and each events associated with all those characters in so much details but when end comes, he left all characters and their stories in between except Aomane and Tengo which disappointed me. Truly speaking, 1Q84 is not up to the mark as per me but you can read it for its surrealism.

About Author: 
Haruki MurakamiSource [Wiki]: Haruki Murakami is a Japanese writer and translator. His works of fiction and non-fiction have garnered him critical acclaim and numerous awards, including the Franz Kafka Prize and Jerusalem Prizeamong others. He is considered an important figure in postmodern literature. The Guardian praised him as “among the world’s greatest living novelists” for his works and achievements.Murakami’s fiction, often criticized by Japan’s literary establishment, is humorous and surreal, and at the same time digresses on themes of alienation and loneliness.Through his work, he is able to capture the spiritual emptiness of his generation and explore the negative effects of Japan’s work-dominated mentality. His writing criticizes the decline in human values and a loss of connection among people in Japan’s society.

Extra Shot:
There’s no knowledge without right faith,
No conduct is possible without knowledge,
Without conduct, there’s no liberation,
And without liberation, no deliverance.
                                  – Lord Mahavira (Uttaradhyayan Sutra, CH. 27, VERSE 3)

Enjoy Reading !!!

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6 Responses to Book Review : 1Q84

  1. monomorpher says:

    Exhaustive review!
    Looks like “Kafka On Shore” fever is still going on! Another jewel from Haruki Murakami?
    And regarding unanswered questions in novels; well novelists leaves some scope for readers to start conversation with writer. Read here

    • shahujvaln says:

      Hey Monomorpher,

      Nice to see you on my blog… Yah, Still I feel “Kafka On Shore” is his best work but that doesn’t mean 1Q84 is very weak… Haruki always tells story from Third Person perspective and I love his writing style… You are right, some author leaves scope for reader to start conversation and Haruki is one of them.

      There were many conversation on “Kafka On Shore” as well. In case of 1Q84, Conversation on “irretrievably lost” is already started at various place (ex. on GoodReads –

      Still 1Q84 is worth to read…

  2. I really adored this book. I might even get it from the library and read it again. Where’s your star-rating?

    • shahujvaln says:

      Yah, Indeed this book is good one.. I gave 3 stars to it (just below to cover page image). I still think, “Kafka On Shore” is his best work till date.

      I loved this novel because of detailed surreal description which you can hardly find in other novels (and that’s why Haruki is my most favorite author) but it looked incomplete to me. Hoping, Haruki Murakami will come up with one more part 🙂 .

      I wanted to know,
      > What happened to Little People and Fuka-Eri when Aomame and Tengo moved back to 1984.
      > What happened with Tengo’s married girlfriend? How she became “irretrievably lost”
      > What happened with Tengo’s mother? Haruki didn’t reveal that secret also.

      Or it is just Haruki’s usual style to leave novel with lot of questions 🙂

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