1Q84 – a world with two moons
On the night of October 24 this year, queues snaked out of bookstores all over London as avid readers counted down to the release of one of the most anticipated book translations ever. Critics were surprised as the hype surrounding this English translation was comparable to a Harry Potter novel. The complete translation of renowned contemporary novelist Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 had finally arrived.
A Murakami reader might initially think that the novel would be similar to a love story of sorts, comparable to his earlier work, Norwegian Wood. But the attraction between the two protagonists, Aomame and Tengo, is questionable, especially since they have not seen each other for the past 20 years, nor have they exchanged any words even when they were back in school. But this attraction is exactly what the two are holding on to in order to get the story going.
In 1Q84, the city of Tokyo has two moons (of which one is a mossy green color). The world is controlled by unearthly creatures which emerge from a dead goat’s mouth.
Like many of his other novels, Murakami paints dream-like landscapes which may be startlingly real at times. The series of events happening at the start is probably one of his strongest and most memorable openings. It is rare that a novel is associated with a piece of music, but listen to Leoš Janáček’s Sinfonietta, and you would realise that it really does go well with the rest of the novel, which is expected from a man who has a music collection of 40,000 records.
The central theme surrounding this novel would arguably be on cults. It may also be, depending on the reader, a subtle reflection of one’s self, which is almost certainly Murakami’s formula to such a loyal fan base.
The protagonists initially seem a little too perfect as individuals, but develop to show their weaknesses. However, a supporting character like Tamaru, the gay bodyguard of a dowager, tends to be more intriguing. He seems to be able to handle all his tasks perfectly, and also gives the best quotes in this novel.
Certain characters can be developed on more, such as the cult leader who leads his group of followers astray. And then there is the odd man with a misshapen head named Ishikawa, who is annoying right from the start. But as the story develops, an odd feeling of sympathy (or empathy, depending on the person) may be evoked in the reader.
But just like many of his other novels, certain concepts are left unexplained. The cults mentioned start off as a mystery, and disappointingly enough, remain a mystery, which may leave readers with a feeling of slight dissatisfaction after reading 925 pages.
But 925 pages or not, 1Q84 is a great read for anyone who, like the protagonist, wants to get lost in a parallel universe and believe, if only for a while, that there are two moons in the sky.