1Q84

This blog is supposed to be about reading — at least, that’s what it says at the top.  But it’s going to take me a while to get through my current book, so it might be worth while issuing an interim report.

1Q84 is a 900-page novel by the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami. It was published in three volumes in Japan, but that’s not the way we do things around here, so we get this intimidating but beautifully designed doorstop of a book.  So far (150 pages in) it follows two young Japanese characters in alternating chapters.  It takes place in 1984, but one of the characters has slipped into a slightly parallel universe that she has started referring to as 1Q84. We are beginning to see tendrils of connections between the two stories, but there is no sense of where it’s all heading

None of which tells you anything about what it’s like to read this (or any other) Murakami novel.  It’s like inhabiting a matter-of-fact dreamworld where the most mundane events — say, a traffic jam on a Tokyo expressway — somehow become inexpressibly eery.  I suppose one could slot it under magical realism, but it’s really sui generis.  And certainly an acquired taste.  I was shocked to see it near the top of the local bestseller list;  I wonder if it will end up being the most unread book of the year.  I find it difficult to put down, but it’ll be interesting to see if I feel the same way 500 pages from now.  Dreamworlds can get dreary if you live in them too long.

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