I must confess that this is my first bold step into the world of Haruki Murakami. After roughly four weeks, my journey through the world of 1Q84 has come to end. I was unfamiliar with this author until this massive yet stunningly beautiful book showed up on the new releases table at the bookstore. I then learned that this author (famous in Japan but relatively unknown in America) titled this book as play on George Orwell’s 1984 (one of my favorites). So I decided to brave the 984 pages.
This fantasy/romance story takes place in Tokyo in the year 1984 and follows two protagonists, Tengo and Aomame, and their quest to find each other. The only way they can do so is by entering the surreal world of 1Q84. As they both realize that they are not in same world as before, they then begin to ponder the peculiarities of the new world and wonder if they, in fact, are the only ones that are aware that they are in 1Q84.
As I began reading the first hundred pages or so, I was extremely curious about where this story was going. Two people, lost in this alternate reality, not really sure what the future holds with them. With much repetition in the story and lots of detail about every action, I thought that it took a lot of time to watch anything happen in the story. After some time, I then became skeptical whether this story would really hold my interest for another 700 pages. I even considered giving up at one point. I decided that since I had already finished 200 pages, I just had to continue.
The story switched back and forth between these two protagonists and we eventually learn that each character lives very similar lives. They are both caught up in immoral circumstances and question their actions. Other characters enter the story and all play a critical role in the decisions that the protagonists choose to make. By book 2, the underlying mystery of the story is revealed and the reader eventually learns the motives among all of the characters in the story.
As I was well into book 2, this book became very interesting. I began to understand the many methods of duality Murakami uses in the story: Tengo/Aomame, 1984/1Q84, talk/solitude, birth/death, large moon/little moon, etc. As the mystery of the book is revealed, I also realized that the underlying mystery really isn’t what this book is about. I deduced that this book is really an exploration of many existential themes of human existence and duality.
At the very center of this story is the theme of loneliness and longing. Other themes explored are parent/child relationships, sexual promiscuity, adultery, fraud, morality, religion, violence, and childhood nostalgia. All of these themes are concocted with simple yet beautiful prose. As a result, Murakami has created a great story that explored much of the dark side to human nature.
Sean and 1Q84
It is unclear to me how personal this novel really is to Haruki Marukami. Whether or not these themes are explored based on his personal experience, I could not determine. Nevertheless, Murakami has crafted a complex book that will leave me tossing around many of these themes in my head. Overall, I enjoyed 1Q84 and believe that my time reading this huge 984 page opus was never irretrievably lost.