Booklist Reviews 2011 September #2
*Starred Review* Murakami writes two kinds of novels: short, intimate, crystalline portraits of lovers, often trapped in alternate worlds or struggling between secret selves (After Dark, 2007), and much longer, broad-canvas epics (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, 1997) that submerge the reader in a tidal wave of story. His latest definitely falls into the latter camp, and, yet, it clings resolutely to the intimacy of the shorter works. This foray into what is unquestionably Murakami's most vividly imagined parallel world begins simply, with two seemingly ordinary events: two lonely 10-year-olds, a boy and a girl, Tengo and Aomame, hold hands in an empty classroom, and for the next 20 years, while never seeing one another, they dream of meeting but are strangely paralyzed to make it happen. Then Aomame, a 30-year-old woman in 1984—and an assassin who kills men who abuse women—walks down an emergency exit from a Tokyo expressway and finds herself in another world, which she calls 1Q84, a world overseen by two moons and ruled, apparently, by the quixotic "little people." Meanwhile, Tengo has rewritten a novel by an enigmatic 17-year-old girl that accurately describes the world of 1Q84. As the lives of Tengo, Aomame, and a Dostoyevskian private investigator, who works for a religious cult that worships the little people, swirl closer and closer together, Murakami draws the reader deeper and deeper into this utterly baffling universe, switching narration between the three principal characters, each of whom grasps only a small part of their two-mooned world. Gradually but inexorably, the tension builds, as we root passionately for Tengo and Aomame to find one another and hold hands again, so simple a human connection offering a kind of oasis in the midst of the unexplainable and the terrifying. When Murakami melds fantasy and realism, mystery and epic, it is no simple genre-bending exercise; rather, it is literary alchemy of the highest order. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Murakami, whose work has been translated into 40 languages, is one of our most-honored international fiction writers. His latest will attract great interest in literary circles. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2011 May #1
Masterly Japanese novelist Murakami returns with what seems rightly billed as his magnum opus, published in Japan in three volumes in 2009–10. The title plays with the Japanese pronunciation of 1984, and indeed this is Murakami's homage to George Orwell's great novel. The lead characters include a young woman assassin and an unpublished novelist charged with punching up a manuscript that a reticent and possibly dyslexic teenager appears to have submitted to a literary contest. Another mind-blowing Murakami puzzle box that's essential for high-end readers; with a 100,000-copy first printing and a reading group guide.[Page 58]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
LJ Reviews 2011 September #2
At the core of this work is a spectacular love story about a girl and boy who briefly held hands when they were both ten. That said, with the fiercely imaginative Murakami as author, the story's exposition is gloriously labyrinthine: welcome "into this enigma-filled world of 1Q84," which begins when sports club instructor Aomame exits a taxi and climbs down emergency stairs to bypass gridlocked traffic and make her next appointment. Meanwhile, cram school teacher and wannabe novelist Tengo is in muddled negotiations to rewrite secretly a 17-year-old girl's fascinating but still raw novella, which has the potential to win a top literary prize. A Chekhov-quoting, Proust-sharing ethnic Korean bodyguard; a wealthy widow who shelters abused women; a policewoman with a penchant for wild, anonymous sex; a religious leader who admits to "congress" with prepubescent girls; a comatose father with a traveling spirit; a misshapen, disbarred ex-lawyer—these are just some of Murakami's signature characters who both hinder and help Aomame and Tengo's hopeful path toward reunion. VERDICT Originally published in Japan as three volumes, each of which were instant best sellers, this work—perhaps Murakami's finest—will surely have the same success in its breathlessly anticipated, all-in-one English translation. Murakami aficionados will delight in recognizing traces of earlier titles, especially A Wild Sheep Chase, Norwegian Wood, and even Underground.—Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC[Page 69]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2011 August #5
The massive new novel from international sensation Murakami (What I Talk About When I Talk About Running) sold out in his native Japan, where it was released in three volumes, and is bound to provoke a similar reaction in America, where rabid fans are unlikely to be deterred by its near thousand-page bulk. Nor should they be; Murakami's trademark plainspoken oddness is on full display in this story of lapsed childhood friends Aomame and Tengo, now lonely adults in 1984 Tokyo, whose destinies may be curiously intertwined. Aomame is a beautiful assassin working exclusively for a wealthy dowager who targets abusive men. Meanwhile Tengo, an unpublished writer and mathematics instructor at a cram school, accepts an offer to write a novel called Air Chrysalis based on a competition entry written by an enigmatic 17-year-old named Fuka-Eri. Fuka-Eri proves to be dangerously connected to the infamous Sakigake cult, whose agents are engaged in a bloody game of cat-and-mouse with Aomame. Even stranger is that two moons have appeared over Tokyo, the dawning of a parallel time line known as 1Q84 controlled by the all-powerful Little People. The condensing of three volumes into a single tome makes for some careless repetition, and casual readers may feel that what actually occurs doesn't warrant such length. But Murakami's fans know that his focus has always been on the quiet strangeness of life, the hidden connections between perfect strangers, and the power of the non sequitur to reveal the associative strands that weave our modern world. 1Q84 goes further than any Murakami novel so far, and perhaps further than any novel before it, toward exposing the delicacy of the membranes that separate love from chance encounters, the kind from the wicked, and reality from what people living in the pent-up modern world dream about when they go to sleep under an alien moon. (Oct.)[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC