Dedicated to classics and hits.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

1Q84 (2012) by Haruki Murakami


Book Review
1Q84 (2012)
by Haruki Murakami

Replaces: The Ghost Road by Pat Barker

  I think if you polled a hundred readers familiar with the high points in Haruki Murakami's bibliography, a majority would pick 1Q84 as his masterpiece.  I would agree with them.   1Q84  has all the characteristics of a mid career masterpiece.  First, it is a definitive statement- over a thousand pages- originally published in three volumes in Japan (though consolidated into a single volume in English translation).  Second, it brings together all the themes of his early career successes: dreams, loneliness, contemporary Japanese life and supernatural elements.  Third, it is memorable- with well drawn characters and a compelling love story at the heart of the narrative.  Only the length of 1Q84 prevents it from being the "if you only read one book by Murakami read this one" pick.

   Trying to get to the bottom of Murakami, his style, and his appeal is liable to ruin the magic.  Suffice it to say that his books contain magic.   The simple fact of his great international success while maintaining a style that is accurately described as, "experimental," should tell you all you need to know.  Who does that?  The relationship between experimental fiction in English translation is basically that of charity, recent attempts to increase the profile of works in translation aside.   An author might be able to make graduate school reading lists, but true commercial success in translation is basically impossible for a writer of experimental fiction.

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