by Haruki Murakami
reviewed by Sarah Deasy
The long awaited translation to Murakami’s latest novel (2 years people!) has finally found it’s way into my hands and it is a revelation. And at 1000 pages for the 3 volumes it’s a hefty revelation, but reading the minute care for detail with the beautiful prose I’m glad they took their time; 1Q84 does not disappoint.
This mammoth of a book started a little slow, but similar to The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, this was to ground you and lay a foundation of the characters in the story, in preparation for the fantastical things which, being Murakami, inevitably must come. It switches from the banal to the supernatural with such ease you don’t notice until it’s too late, you have been transported to a world with two moons and reality is not what it seems.
The story is told in alternating chapters by two people leading two separate lives, seemingly unrelated but intrinsically entwined, and delve into metafictional weirdness where their destines feel completely out of their control. Like Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder (another fantastic translated-to-English novel for anyone who hasn’t yet read it) the lines between fiction and reality are blurred and history is rewritten. Reading IQ84 your mind jumps ahead to solve the mystery like a good crime novel, but it is knocked back at every turn because Murakami is a literary genius and you are not, and the next thing you know it’s 3am and you have to remind yourself to breath. I am hesitant to reveal too much of the complex plot because unravelling it is for the joy of the reader.
Murakami still seems to be a bit of a cult author in Australia, unlike Japan where he is a mainstream superstar, but this book could change that. Despite it’s sometimes slow pace (no detail is too small for Murakami) it reads like a thriller and crosses over multiple genres. The end of the second volume left on a cliffhanger worthy of Jack Bauer and I am left itching for the full publication to see how on Earth all the strings will tie together.