Haruki Murakami | 2009
Here we go: The book that nearly derailed my entire 2019 challenge! 🤦🏾♀️ Be forewarned: this review is probably overly long, like this book!
I’ve wanted to read this book forever, since I saw it on my moms nightstand years ago. (Writing this, I realize, from my moms shelves is how I discovered most writers like Murakami, Morrison and Angelou. Shout out to mommas that read important books!) I never knew what the book was about but, at over 1200 pages, it’s the longest, single, fiction book I’ve ever desired to read. I’m sure I considered finishing it a grown up accomplishment and I’m pretty sure that’s how it made my tbr list. Though, like I said, Ive never known what it was about, I remember assuming it had to be good because it was so long. In 1200 pages, a writer could make anything happen, right?
There’s a few notables about 1q84: the popularity of the book, the story itself and the authors writing style. Japanese writer Haruki Murakami released the book in 3 parts between 2009-2010 to rock star success. The first edition sold out and the next 2 runs sold at about 1 million copies a month for almost a year. The book is printed in 50 languages and has gotten equal reception at each release.
Murakami wrote the book as an ode to George Orwells classic 1984. 1984 was written in 1949 about a future authoritarian state where the government attempts to control all aspect of life, including thoughts. Murakami’s book was written in 2009 about an ‘alternative’ year, 1q84, lived in a place, similar to reality, except with 2 moons. The heart of each plot is the manipulation of how we think and/or what we think and a love story. Orwell’s couple is driven together through rebelling against an overreaching government, while Murakami writes about a powerful, mysterious religious cult seemingly keeping his would be lovers apart.
To be transparent, I read 1984 in high school and haven’t thought of it since. I’m assuming it didn’t have the same impact on me as Fahrenheit 451 or Invisible Man. Writing this review makes me want to read it again, in hopes it would hold a key to unlock something interesting about 1q84. 😩
What IS interesting to me about 1q84 is the writing style. Before becoming an author, Murakami was a Jazz club owner. He’s known for his extensive love of music and uses it as a backdrop to many scenes in all of his books. (I use this fact while reasoning the meanings of obscure rap lines. Drake’s, ‘a lotta Murakami in the hallway’ high key refers to Japanese painter Takashi Murakami, but, low key could also refer to writer Haruki as he has several ties to the music world and was besties with Maya Angelou. Drake loves to target the ‘smart crowd’ with ratchetdry. But, I digress. Catch me in a bar@Avalon and we’ll argue over 20 yo whiskey.) This time Murakami modeled the structure of his novel after a composition by Bach. 3 books, 48 chapters, major and minor keys equal to the major and minor storylines of the lead characters all structured after Bach’s piano instrumental, Well-Tempered Clavier. Like, who does that? That’s some genius level stuff right there. Thinking of the book through that lens does offer some insight to the book and makes me appreciate the creativity, even if I wasn’t in love with the story.
I think the main story plot is the love story between Aomame and Tengo. As the bio unfolds you discover the two are childhood crushes of sort, separated physically, but, never lost a deep spiritual connection. They continue to seek one another in different time and space. As they seek each other we learn about a super secret religious cult, a weird cult kid that writes a weird book despite dyslexia, unscrupulous book editors and some underground Assassin network that wants to kill the cult leader a’la John Wick…way before John Wick. 🤦🏾♀️ Whatever man. That’s not even half of it. All characters are multidimensional with good and bad tones that play out in GREAT detail. 1200 pages of great detail.
The best thing about the story is what nearly derailed my entire challenge. Murakami does a great job of telling a story. He creates a space and time so detailed with so many moving parts, very simply put, I was interested. I figured out soon enough there would be no bloody deaths, no fight scenes, probably no extreme plot twists, you never really get detail on the shit you want to know about (like the little men that visit some folks while asleep🤦🏾♀️)…but, I was still interested. I must have been! I was certainly bored. I put the book down and would attempt to read something else and find myself wondering if the kid had come back or if Tengo and Aomame had met in the Park. Like..?!!! This thing made me question my sanity, comprehension skills and overall intellectual capacity. (I’m smart…right?) Less than mid-way through I switched to audiobook. Thinking, I could listen better than I could read. I suspect that’s like going from eating food to a forced IV.
The creative detail added to each story, the reach of mimicking it after some fav composition…10 points. But on literary merit alone..2. It’s a glorified door stopper. Read this to earn the right to say, you’ve read it. Don’t expect to get anything else out of the month.
Here’s the skinny: I’m a literary snob, I stole this from my mommas nightstand, and this guy was besties with the Queen Angelou: you think I’m NOT gonna hashtag this #GoodBook?! Blasphemy. If I can finish it, so can you! Get to reading Jedi’s! May the force, be with you! 🙏🏾👍🏾😜😂😂