Book Review – 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
That’s what the world is, after all; an endless battle of contrasting memories.
I don’t mind usurping another reviewer’s thoughts when they strike a chord, so I’ll shamelessly steal the idea that this is Murakami’s marathon novel. The man writes and runs, so at 1,157 pages, 1Q84 appears to be a fusion of the two. Running a marathon takes endurance, writing a literary equivalent takes endurance, and finally reading the result takes endurance. Such a book is asking a lot from everyone involved, and with that in mind, I feel some slack should be cut. There will be stumbles, scraped knees, and moments of sheer monotony. But there will also be moments of zen, cheering onlookers, and the unbeatable feeling of having crossed the finish line.
1Q84, much as the “Q” suggests, leaves the reader with several unanswered questions. When reviewing a book, the question(!) is: Does the book leave the most important question unanswered? Sure, take a few potshots at those fourth and fifth stars for riling up your interest in the peripheral stuff and leaving you hanging. That’s fair. But overall, can you answer someone when they ask, “What’s that book about?”
Murakami introduces all sorts of fantastical elements in this story – chrysalises that are spun out of air, strange interdimensional “Little People” that are up to no good, and a disembodied consciousness that knocks on doors demanding people pay for their public television. Though these strands intrigue the reader and some may feel slighted by Muarkami’s lack of follow-through, they exist at the margins of the real story–the idea that pure love transcends anything this crazy universe throws at it. Destiny is destiny up to a certain point, but people have the ability to control the most important parts of their lives.
Did Murakami need over a thousand pages to tell this story? Who’s to say? It was his story to tell. If we grow tired of the seemingly endless prose, maybe that should reflect more on personal tastes than the book before us.
I’ve noticed a lot of people don’t recommend 1Q84 for a first-time Murakami reader. It probably shouldn’t be if you don’t know what to expect, but I find myself looking forward to reading more of his work.
Fun links to learn more:
- My highly informal, yet somehow highly formal, book notes.
- A reader has compiled a list of what they feel are unanswered questions and loose ends in 1Q84.