1Q84 is a typical culmination of Murakamian writings over the years. Someone who has read Murakami extensively will find some recurring themes ranging from domestic violence, runaways, melancholy followed by a profound loss, parochialism & fanaticism of some religious sects, to stranger events taking place in tandem. Those who take great delight in magical realism, thriller with a tinge of romance, this book is a really good read for you, with Murakami’s serendipitous prose. Tengo and Aomame are the key characters, they are lovers and yearn to meet each other, without being sure of their shared affection. But something unprecedented takes place, as some little people mess up with the world by weaving air chrysalis, leading to the creation of mazha & dohta. Little people have some super natural powers and they work through a network of a perceiver and a receiver. The passage for them to enter the real world in the year 1984 opens when they come out of the corpse of a blind goat in the sequestered premises of the Sakigake , a religious organization. Fuka Eri (Eriko Fukada), daughter of the founder and the supreme leader of Sakigake, acts as a facilitator to the little people and bears the first witness account of the clandestine activities of the little people. Fuka Eri escapes Sakigake and dictates her experiences, which take the form of a book. Tengo is asked by his publisher friend to ghost write the book and give structure & coherency to the writing style. The book does quite well and Fuka Eri gets nominated for a young writer’s award. When the book sells myriad copies within just hours, Tengo becomes wary of the repercussions of being indulgent in something illicit. This overzealous response to the book and their mention in it irked the little people. Aomame also enters the year 1Q84 and gets drawn into this morass. Aomame enters this new world of two moons, through an event when she murders a man who allegedly assaulted his wife. Aomame, a fitness trainer becomes acquainted with a wealthy seventy years old dowager through her gym. Dowager takes care of beleaguered women, battered by domestic violence and sexual abuse in her safe house. Dowager engages Aomame in a plan to kill the leader of Sakigake on the charge of him having raped three prepubescent girls including his own daughter, one of them was residing in her safe house. However, the girl one night disappears mysteriously.
Overall, it’s an authentic and rigorous work, spanning over three volumes. The first two parts move slightly slower than the third one. Albeit in the first two volumes, Murakami’s literary genius becomes emphatic as ever. The way the loneliness, the dilemmas, inveterate flaws, the tensions in relationships, misconstrued expectations, the fine details of clothing and cooking, are written highlights the true Murakami phenomenon. The last volume somewhat reads like a mystery with an apparition like detective featuring in, a bizarre NHK fee collector perpetually barging into people’s property. The difference here is that unlike other mysteries here is no suspense, yet the mystery never loses its sheen. But with Murakami you can’t be cocksure, even if the fog of precariousness seems to have cleared out. As the end appears imminent, one hopes for a reversal or an uncanny transmogrification of events, at least I did.
The end ends in such a way that some questions remain elusive or to some extent deceitful. Yet a sense of having settled on some front emerges out conspicuously. The critics of Murakami may find some subplots redundant & even outlandish. To this, there are certain aspects of the book that can be challenged, but then the very basic idea of Murkami’s magical realism comes into play and it becomes more contentious.
So this book can be considered as either one of the most marvelous works in Murakami’s palette or just another hollow literary endeavor. But if you are in a mood to immerse yourself into something intense and captivating, this book wouldn’t bore you, even if you get bored, you wouldn’t put it down (for serial readers). A sequel can be made out of it and Murkami hasn’t sidelined the possibility but neither has passionately endorsed such view. Whether the 1Q84 year ended or posed more evolved challenges masquerading as a new world, is a matter of muse for the readers. The story ended at such a juncture where it was complete yet something unsettling still lurked around. That’s the paradox of Murakami, it can’t be simplified and put into binaries of happy & sad endings, and this is the glamorous part as well.