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1Q84 (1Q84, #1-3)
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Asma Fedosia (InTheNoh) | 2068 comments Mod
You finished the novel and want to comment on the entirety of it.


Sean O'Hara (SeanOHara) | 19 comments Did anyone else find the Tengo/Aomame romance cliched? The childhood friend romance is one of the most common plotlines in Japanese romantic fiction, and even this particular variation, where they weren't actually friends but shared a single poignant moment that affected them deeply has been done before -- Haruka Nogizaka's Secret for instance uses an almost identical set-up, and I could probably list off another dozen examples if I tried. But at least those examples come up with interesting variations to keep the plot fresh. I find Murakami's version, if you ignore the surrounding craziness, plays out in the most straight forward manner possible. Makoto Shinkai did far more with the idea in Five Centimeters Per Second, a film that barely clocks in at an hour, than Murakami did in a thousand pages -- in fact, I'd argue that Shinkai did more in the last five minutes.

It wouldn't be so bad if the love story had been a subplot, or if Murakami hadn't made it so obvious from the get-go, but ultimately it became what the book was about and it's like hanging a painting with a thumbtack.


message 3: by Asma (last edited Jan 08, 2012 04:37PM) (new) - added it

Asma Fedosia (InTheNoh) | 2068 comments Mod
I won't comment yet about the plot, being in Book 1; however, I'll note the Makoto Shinkai film to compare 1Q84. "Haruka Nogizaka's Secret" is in Japanese :)


Declan For me, the success of a novel as ambitious, imaginative and lengthy as 1Q84 can be judged by how an event, such as the temporary appearance of a ten-year old girl, enveloped in an air chrysalis, and lying in the depression left in a bed by a dying man who has been taken out for tests, can be made to seem unremarkable within the context of the book. I 'believe' that this is possible, because everything I have read up to that point allows such a thing to happen. On a technical level alone, Murakami has achieved a terrific amount with this work because he creates an alternative world which has many similarities to the one we inhabit, but which also has many extra and outlandish aspects, which repeatedly render the version of the world we know irrelevant.

It is a long book, but it is a very easy read. You want to find out more and, just to keep you in that state, the flow of information is usually interrupted by the use of alternate chapters showing - through a third-person narrator - the point of view of the main characters Aomame and Tengo (and in book three that of Ushikawa). For me, however, the novel never regains the tension and mystery it achieved up to, and especially including, the set piece that is the central event of book two. After that point the story, although still intriguing, becomes one of constantly deferred reward. This is most acutely the case in book three where, quite often, the narration of Ushikawa's perspective can just slow everything down. The description of his time as a family man fails to add any touch of poignancy to his repellent character. Other aspects of the novel fail to achieve flight too, for example,the stories of the 'little people' never really comes into focus and most of the sex seems driven by the fantasies of a middle-aged man rather than the needs of the plot.

But, it is a really enjoyable read. It is not a very profound book, it has little to say about the human condition except that you might be living in a world which is less real than you imagine. What he does succeed in proving is that language can construct it's own reality.


Asma Fedosia (InTheNoh) | 2068 comments Mod
Declan, thank you for posting the review of 1Q84, which makes me want to find out who this Ushikawa is.
Right now, I'm finishing Sputnik Sweetheart, a Murakami novella whose three characters (K, Sumire, Miu) inquire, as Sumire says, "Who in the world am I?" and whose sense of reality mixes in dreams and thinking and whose commitment to action starts with a plan half-formed. Your comments about "technical" virtuosity and "human condition" in 1Q84 remind me that Miu, who achieved great technical proficiency as a concert pianist, also lacked human warmth and emotion that listeners enjoy.


Asma Fedosia (InTheNoh) | 2068 comments Mod
I read a review of "1Q84" on the blog Contemporary Japanese Literature which linked to another review on The London Review of Books. One point made by LRB was about what makes a fantasy world, one distinction being the imagined world does not operate by consistent rules as the real world does. I remembered that when rereading the first paragraph of Declan's post, where he wrote, "On a technical level alone, Murakami has achieved a terrific amount with this work because he creates an alternative world which has many similarities to the one we inhabit, but which also has many extra and outlandish aspects, which repeatedly render the version of the world we know irrelevant."


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Books mentioned in this topic

Nogizaka Haruka No Himitsu (other topics)
Sputnik Sweetheart (other topics)