1Q84: April-June

After two weeks, I finally finished the first part of Haruki Murakami’s 3-inch-thick novel, 1Q84.  

1Q84 is divided into three parts –  from April-June (Part 1), to July-September (Part 2), and finally October-December (Part 3) – of 1984.

“Don’t let appearances fool you.”

Having just recently finished the first part – April-June, I felt that I should post something about it lest I forget what it’s all about by the time I finish the entire novel.

April-June is made up of 24 chapters alternating between 2 characters who, for the time being, at least, seem like the two main characters of the novel: Aomame and Tengo.

Aomame is yoga / martial arts instructor who is unsure of her existence and what world and time she’s living in.

Tengo is a cram school mathematics teacher / would-be fiction writer trying desperately to hang on to the familiar world he knows and loves.

Both are 29 years old.  Both have had less-than-perfect childhoods. Both have a dark secret.

In this first part, readers are introduced to these two unlikely protagonists. As the plot unfolds, the readers get to know both characters little by little – their personalities, their lives, their pasts.

Throughout the first part of the novel, Murakami teases readers by giving bits of information about his two main characters.  He also introduces minor, but important characters connected to Aomame or Tengo, intentionally not saying too much about them at any given time.

As readers continue to read about Aomame and Tengo, Murakami hints at the possible connection between them – their pasts, and their futures, being careful not to reveal too much.

1Q84 is an indescribable novel.  The style is easy to read, and the narration is easy to follow, but it is filled with strange dialogue, concepts, ideas, and characters, that it’s hard to know where the novel is going, or what it is about exactly.

The novel is filled with contrasting opposites.  The characters are interesting, yet boring at the same time; complex, yet, sometimes very one-dimensional.  They are intelligent, yet stupid; intriguing, yet dull.

Likewise, the novel gives off the same feeling.  It is simultaneously unique but unoriginal.  Reading it is like riding a roller-coaster.  At times rather slow, boring and dry, then suddenly fast paced, exciting, evocative and very intriguing.

It is a love story, a mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, postmodern, historical, political…it’s everything all rolled into one.

It touches on many (Japanese) cultural issues.  On the power struggles between men and women; parents and children.  It also touches on issues on religion, education; issues on censorship, freedom, and basic human rights.

Even now, I am not convinced as to whether or not I’m enjoying this novel.  At this point, I seem to have a love-hate relationship with it.  I’m conflicted as to whether or not I can, or should, finish reading it.

In one word, I would describe this novel as “weird.”  Then again, “weird” doesn’t even begin to describe it….

(1Q84: July – September)

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