1Q84 is a 2009-2010 novel by Haruki Murakami.
from the back of the book:
A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell's -1Q84 is a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.I like a long book. Honest. I used to seek them out, and -though I don't do that any more- I don't find a book's length particularly intimidating. But this book is long, at 1,157 pages in my edition. Given the choice of re-reading a book this length I wouldn't choose this one. It's not that the pace is slow, even though it is; and it's not that it's confusing, as I've heard some people say. I guess I just find the characters themselves unengaging and unbelieveable. I'm also troubled by the image of the male characters, helpless and unable to move, with large, hard erections, being mounted for the purpose of sex by pre-pubescent girls. I found the assurances that the girls can't get pregnant because they haven't had their first periods bizarre. As yet another teen-aged girl climbs on top of a poor, helpless man, I found myself rolling my eyes and thinking, "Well, I knew it was a fantasy novel when I bought it." I also got tired of reading descriptions of breasts (both from the narrator and from the characters) and pubic hair. I don't tend to be particularly delicate about descriptions of body parts, but -as with Mickey Spillane and his focus on lips- I get tired of the repetition. These issues made continuing to read the book difficult at times.
The book opens with Janacek's Sinfonietta, and the piece recurs throughout the book. I liked that.
What did it mean for a person to be free? she would often ask herself. Even if you managed to escape from one cage, weren't you just in another, larger one?....
"Humans see time as a straight line. It's like putting notches on a long, straight stick. The notch here is the future, the one on this side is the past, and the present is the point right here. Do you understand?"....
"I think so."
"But actually time isn't a straight line. It doesn't have a shape. In all senses of the term, it doesn't have any form. But since we can't picture something without form in our minds, for the sake of convenience we understand it as a straight line. At this point humans are the only ones who can make that sort of conceptual substitution."
"But maybe we are the ones who are wrong."
"When you prick a person with a needle, red blood comes out -that's the real world."....
The lawyer had said so. So it must be true -or, at least, a fact, in a legal sense. But it felt like the more facts that were revealed, the more the truth receded. Why would that be?....
The NYT calls it "stupefying" -and not in a good way- and says, "“1Q84” has even his most ardent fans doing back flips as they try to justify this book’s glaring troubles." The Atlantic asks, "What is the sound of one book flopping?"
Slate Magazine says, "It is tempting to explain these weaknesses in terms of what is lost in translation, just as it is tempting to dismiss Murakami as an artless writer. Neither judgment is fair. Unbelievable characters, forced exposition, and rambling dialogue are unlikely to read any less awkwardly in Murakami’s native tongue." The LRB says it's "a bit like watching a Hollywood-influenced Japanese movie in a version that’s been dubbed by American actors."
The LA Review of Books shares my distaste of the breast focus, saying,
Nevertheless, one passing reference likely would have sufficed, and somewhere in the fourth or fifth or sixth such passage, there is the distinct whiff of perviness. Pervy because of the repetition, but also because, while these descriptions are offered from the POV of a female character (usually Aomame), commenting on either her own body or someone else's, they don't sound like a woman speaking. Rather, they sound like a man (or a teenage boy) describing a woman's breasts, or more specifically, like a teenage boy's fantasy of a woman describing another woman's breasts.
NPR calls it "a gorgeous festival of words". Salon and The Daily Beast have positive reviews. The Wall Street Journal says, "if you can soldier through the prose and some rather tremendous longueurs, you'll find genuine wisdom and emotional depth in "1Q84."" Kirkus Reviews calls it a "dreamlike, strange and wholly unforgettable epic."
io9 says, "1Q84 is definitely not Murakami's best novel, but I still enjoyed bits and pieces of it."