John's Reviews > 1Q84

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
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's review
Mar 08, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction, science-fiction
Read from April 05 to 22, 2012

The Best New Novel Published in English Last Year

Haruki Murakami returns to the surrealistic, magic realism fiction of "Kafka on the Shore" in his genre-bending "1Q84", ably translated by his long-time translators Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel, collaborating with them on what is quite possibly the most impressive novel published in the English language last year. Murakami playfully bends genres and literary conventions in "1Q84", which could be viewed as a psychologically dark homage to George Orwell's "1984", but should be regarded instead as a vivid fictional exploration into the totalitarian nature of fanatical religious cults, and the nature of one's own existence. "1Q84" succeeds admirably as an elegant example of alternative history science fiction crossed with pulp detective crime fiction, in creating a parallel Japan where the rules of existence depend exclusively on illogical means. Into that parallel existence, a young woman, Aomame realizes that she has emerged into "1Q84", noting discrepancies in her knowledge of Japan's recent history as well as the unexpected appearance of two moons in the nocturnal sky. A long-lost friend from her youth, struggling novelist Tengo, recognizes the subtle changes in reality too, as he revises the enigmatic debut novel of a teenager, who, like himself and Amomame, have escaped from highly secretive, quite fanatical, religious cults. As he realizes that the novel may possess some semblance of reality, Tengo not only searches for the meaning of his own existence (as well as the teenager's), but finds himself propelled by unforeseen events over the course of the year that will intersect with Aomame's own destiny. Readers unfamiliar with modern Japanese culture may be confounded by Murakami's descriptive, almost visionary, prose; but that's a minor complaint in what is otherwise one of the best novels I have read regarding the nature of one's own personal identity and emotional ties to both family and friends. Nor does the seemingly excessive length of the tale itself should give potential readers a reason to ignore this great work of fiction; in composing the intricate, tightly woven sagas of Aomame and Tengo, Murakami has offered readers a compelling work of fiction that should be viewed favorably by most.

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