I have finished 1Q84.
It took me over a month to get through this giant of a novel and along the way it piqued my curiosity, made me feel anxious, happy, sad, angry; it bored me, excited me – but most of all, it confused me. It confused me at the very beginning, and even after reading every single one of its 1,154 pages, it still confuses me.
The third and last part of IQ84 differs slightly from the first two parts because it focuses not just on the two main characters, Aomame and Tengo, but also on a third, curious character named Ushikawa. Ushikawa is an intelligent and cunning ex-lawyer / detective-for-hire hot on the trail of the two protagonists.
For me, Ushikawa was a surprisingly likable character. His attitude toward life and self deprecating manner was endearing, if not a little sad.
In the 3rd part of the novel, more secrets are revealed, and some loose ends are tied, but in terms of action, nothing much happens. It is a time devoted to waiting. Waiting for what might happen next; waiting for answers that may never come.
After reading 1Q84, I got a sense that in writing the novel, Murakami was more interested in giving form to his ideas and breathing life to the characters in his head, and in doing so, seemed to not give too much importance on explaining concepts and ideas and answering questions.
To borrow Murakami’s own words, 1Q84 could be best described as:
“As a story, the work is put together in an exceptionally interesting way and it carries the reader along to the very end, but when it comes to the question of what is an air chrysalis, or who are the Little People, we are left in a pool of mysterious question marks. This may well be the author’s intention, but many readers are likely to take this lack of clarification as a sign of ‘authorial laziness.’”
I wouldn’t go so far as to call Murakami lazy. Tengo even said it himself:
If an author succeeded in writing a story “put together in an exceptionally interesting way” that “carries the reader along to the very end,” who could possibly call such a writer “lazy”?
I couldn’t have put it better than Aomame:
Although it was a story about the fantastical experiences of a girl placed in unusual circumstances, it also had something that called forth people’s natural sympathies. It probably aroused some subconscious something, which was why readers were pulled in and kept turning pages.
Ironically, both passages came from the novel and were used to describe Fuka-Eri’s novel, Air Chrysalis.
I would be lying if I said I knew what this novel is trying to communicate to its readers. Honestly, I don’t have a clue. It’s a mystery / love story / fantasy / sci-fi / cultural critique all rolled into one, but deep down, underneath it all, what is it really about?
The most meaningful thing was whether or not one could accept their existence as a fact…
Maybe, it doesn’t matter what it’s really about or whether or not it’s real. Like Tengo, maybe one just needs to believe it and accept 1Q84 for what it is – an incredibly intricate and complicated literary puzzle.
1Q84 (2011) – Haruki Murakami
Vintage International; 1,154 pages
Personal Rating: 3.5/5