1Q84: October – December

I have finished 1Q84.

Finally!

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.

"If you can’t un­der­stand it with­out an ex­pla­na­tion, you can’t un­der­stand it with an ex­pla­na­tion."

“If you can’t un­der­stand it with­out an ex­pla­na­tion, you can’t un­der­stand it with an ex­pla­na­tion.”

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:  April – June

1Q84:  July- September

***

1Q84 (2011) – Haruki Murakami

Vintage International; 1,154 pages

Personal Rating:  3.5/5

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4 thoughts on “1Q84: October – December

  1. It seem to be quite typical of Murakami’s work. In fact he has notoriously said that he does not plan his novels before writing, which can sometimes allow him to just whimsy on in odd disjointed directions. That said, I started reading Murakami expecting to have the answers clear and to understand everything, but I came to accept that understanding wasn’t always going to come, and that for me it was best to let go of expectations and free fall through his writing… I had to learn to read differently. Needless to say, Murakami taught me to read in a whole new way.

    I reviewed Murakami’s Wind Up Bird Chronicle here > http://oblahblah.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-wind-up-bird-chronicle-haruki.html

      • I’ve got Norwegian Wood on my to-read pile. Maybe I’ll stop by and let you know what I thought once I get around to it… saying that, I have 40 books on my to read pile and there is another 13 before Norwegian Wood lol, so it may be a few months. Anywho, I have you on my blogroll so I’ll be stopping in regularly anyways!
        I can’t wait to hear what you think of Kafka on the Shore, I hope it’s awesome!

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