NO DOUBT ABOUT IT: there were two moons. One was the moon that had always been there, and the other was a far smaller, greenish moon, somewhat lopsided in shape, and much less bright. It looked like a poor, ugly, distantly related child that had been foisted on the family by unfortunate events and was welcomed by no-one. But it was undeniably here, neither a phantom nor an optical illusion, hanging in space like other heavenly bodies, a solid mass with a clear-cut outline. Not a plane, not a blimp, not an artificial satellite, not a papier-mâché moon that someone made for fun. It was without a doubt a chunk of rock, having quietly, stubbornly settled on a position in the night sky, like a punctuation mark placed only after long deliberation or a mole bestowed by destiny. – Haruki Murakami, 1Q84, Book 2, Chapter 20
I’ve been meaning to write about 1Q84 for some time now. First published in Japan in 2009 (back when I was still a teenage dirtbag), this epic three-parter by Haruki Murakami reached our shores sometime in October last year. As my best friend will tell you, I am notoriously bad at keeping up with current trends, so forgive me for jumping on the bandwagon just in the nick of time.
1Q84 is one of those rare reads that you know will stay with you for the rest of your life. In short, it’s the most imaginative piece of writing I’ve ever read. At its core, 1Q84 is a love story. So far, so stereotypical. Two characters, Tengo and Aomame, spent their school years in the same institution but only made contact once for the briefest of moments. Neither character can forget the other, and they spend the rest of their adult lives wondering what might have been.
For different reasons, Tengo and Aomame find themselves embroiled in a twisted tale involving a mysterious set of ‘Little People’ and a hippy commune in the country with a reputation for weirdness. One day, they both find themselves looking up at this second, lopsided moon that has miraculously appeared in the sky. It’s the stuff of pounding, love soaked dreams, the kind of moment that everyone who has ever been lonely has wanted to happen to them. In 1Q84, Tengo and Aomame are two people whose lives have been tightly bound together by the hands of fate. There is no doubt about this; they both know it, and the audience certainly know it. All we can do is watch and wait as they try to bring their lives to a congruent point.
Now I’m not normally a soppy person. Hand me a DVD of The Notebook and I’ll gladly burn it before you can say ‘I’m a bird.’ This book is not your average too-good-to-be-true rom com. To be together, these star-crossed lovers have to endure a helluva lot of aggro. Whether it’s being chased by creepy cult members or sought out by sinister ‘Little People’ who enjoy exploding dogs and crawling out of dead goats’ mouths, there’s always something to stop Tengo and Aomame in their tracks. In the topsy turvy world of 1Q84, nothing is impossible.
If you like your love stories dark with a pinch of surreality, this book will certainly quench your thirst. If, like me, you’re a recent graduate who’s already getting a bit tired of life, this book will be a breath of fresh air. If neither of the above applies, hopefully your curiosity will get the better of you and you’ll sneak a peek anyway. Trust me, you won’t regret it.