What’s Been Happening with 1Q84?

Photo from The Guardian

No, I haven’t thrown my copy out in the trash (I’m still in love with the slightly creepy cover of the hardback edition). Have the Little People gotten the better of me? Why, how ever could you say so? Be honest.


Actually, yes. Yes. I hate the Little People! I couldn’t care less about the Little People. I think Little People have abducted Mr Haruki Murakami, and ghostwritten this hefty door-stopper in his name. Can this really be the same Murakami who wrote the rollicking Kafka on the Shore, and ever so ethereal Norwegian Wood? What on earth is going on?

The worst part is, to answer these questions to my earnest self, I have to reach the end of the book. And so I have decided to indulge my curiosity and embark on a Japanese literature challenge – the sixth one, to be accurate. I am currently halfway through 1Q84. I began reading it in June, earlier this year, a testament to what a bore this book really is.

I’m actually reading two translations of 1Q84 side by side, one the English Jay Rubin/Philip Gabriel collaboration and the second, a translation in Mandarin Chinese. What’s interesting is that the pared back, almost clinical style of Murakami’s sentences work much better in Chinese (I wonder if this is also the case with the Korean translation, which would have been my preferred choice, since I’m not as proficient in Mandarin). I’ve often wondered if this was a flaw of [English] translation, but I’m only just beginning to form a sense of how close to the original tone and flow Rubin/Gabriel really manage to get.

Midway thoughts? If it wasn’t clear enough from my expression of disgust towards the Little People (above), and the fact that this book is taking me over three months to finish, I’m not sure if I’m liking it all too much…

Also reading Murakami’s (slimmer) After Dark, to try and balance out my dislike of 1Q84, and to remind myself of what he is truly capable of. More thoughts to come.


9 thoughts on “What’s Been Happening with 1Q84?

  1. I wasn’t that thrilled with the Little People myself and smiled at your comment that they had abducted our Mr. Murakami. However, I ended up feeling that Haruki had excellent things to say about love, and I’m still intrigued by his parallel universe. I’m intrigued with him always, I guess. I don’t claim to fully understand him, but I do love him. Glad you’ve joined the JLC6!

    1. Bellezza, same. It’s that intriguing part of Murakami (and his mind/universe) that keeps me coming back. With 1Q84, I think I have less of a problem with plot elements – my discontent is more to do with the way he’s written it. Chunks of back story, and a narrative that reads in part like something an eleven year old would submit to creative writing class….. I just don’t understand, when normally Murakami’s writing is quite simple, but nuanced.

  2. I read this during the summer (here in August) and so stuck with it and wasn’t overcome at all by the Little People, was really into observing how Tengo and Aomame’s stories kept having these parallel occurences, clearly carefully plotted and also how it was more realistic than previous works I’d read. I’m looking forward to it all tying up in Book 3. I think it’s really well done and compelling. Is he on track to win the Nobel prize I wonder? That would really bring him into the mainstream. Intereating, I haven’t read the two you mention, perhaps this title follows on better from the two books of his I have read.

    1. Hmm strange that you mention bringing him into the mainstream because he seems to be quite prominent in literary circles. I kind of get what you mean though, he definitely keeps a low-profile compared with other contemporary writers like Salman Rushdie or Orhan Pamuk. His fan base certainly seems to be as extensive though!

      I do love Murakami, and so I’m going to try make it to the end of 1Q84. Dubious though….

        1. Probably! Summer is fast approaching in sunny, sunny Australia…….
          It’s (unfortunately) getting harder to balance life and literature as the years go by :(

              1. Wait till you get so impossibly busy and then the stubborn streak comes out that ensures literature will absolutely stay in your life – but for now you should be out enjoying yourself and living it up, don’t let Pamuk steal too much of your time, read some novellas and feel a sense of achievement :)

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