I was finally done with Murakami’s 1Q84[1] a few weekends ago on a train heading south to London. Like my literary ‘rides’ with any Murakami tome, I just go with the flow through every chapter without trying to figure out the finer details, no matter how bizarre or abstract the story is. Yes, the latest Murakami work available in English[2] is indeed another strange one, but I wouldn’t have wanted it otherwise. I think I bought 1Q84 from Amazon early last year, but at the rate I have been reading books, and the fact that I had to finish two of David Mitchell’s books first, it was no surprise that it took me this long to finish it.

1Q84’s essentially a love story. Well, that’s how I see it anyway. The love between the two protagonists bloomed early on in their childhood despite the distance that exists between them, figuratively and physically. The story is set in 1984 and it revolves Aomame Masami, an assassin (of sorts), and Tengo Kawana, a maths teacher at a cram school who also writes. The chapters are divided into stories of each protagonist (1 – Aomame, 2- Tengo and so forth) which follows a parallel timeline, which intertwines bringing these two painfully close yet so far to each other at times. Events leading to a change in the reality that is 1984 (where two moons exist) is triggered the moment Aomame descends down an emergency staircase off a highway and at the same time, Tengo is persuaded by his editor to be a ghostwriter for a book written by teenaged girl named Fukada Eriko (Fuka Eri for short). This reality change is not obvious to the protagonists but several events, some of which are downright weird, affect the two which raises the question of whether their paths will cross once again.

Despite its expected weirdness, 1Q84 was nevertheless an engaging read. One of the less likeable characters in this story meets an unfortunate end by which time, I was beginning to feel sorry for him. Expect some lack of reconciliation in some of the character relationships in this book, as one would expect in a Murakami, but then again, if that aspect of a relationship is done and over with, one would get on with the rest of the story, I guess. There were numerous choice Murakami-esque quotes in 1Q84 and I have to agree with the Murg, “According to Chekhov, once a gun appears in a story, it has to be fired” is the best one ever. As for the obligatory music reference, try Janáček’s Sinfonietta and Sonny & Cher for size!

I am such a sucker for love stories that involves serendipity[3]. Highly recommended? Damn right.

[1]1Q84 is a play on the year 1984, in which 9 in nihon-go is pronounced kyuu.
[2]His latest is 色彩を持たない多崎つくると、彼の巡礼の年, or Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, which should be available in English in 2014. Apparently.
[3]Try checking out ハナミズキ (Hanamizuki) which stars the delectable Aragaki Yui.