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1Q84 by Haruki Murakami: A Review

“Maybe it’s a paradox, like an image reflected to infinity in a pair of facing mirrors. I am a part of this world, and this world is a part of me.”

Not being a traditional book reviewer, and this not being a traditional book, it seems appropriate to begin at the beginning – with the packaging and design. 1Q84 (the “Q” is a pun on the homophone kyu, “nine” in Japanese, and stands for “question”) by Haruki Murakami is an event from the moment you pick it up. In this age of digital words and scrolling text, the U.S. printing of 1Q84 (Alfred A. Knopf) is clearly meant to be an experience. Clocking in at a hefty 925 pages and wrapped in elegant translucent garb, the book is an exercise in dichotomy before the cover is even cracked. The layout of the book is clever, with mirror-reflected page numbers and scrolling introductory text that underscores the novel’s themes of time and the dual natures of reality. It would also be remiss to ignore the elegance of the translation. Not speaking word one of Japanese, I can only imagine the daunting task of conveying the strange poetry of Murakami, but these translators (Jay Rubin for Books 1 and 2, Philip Gabriel for Book 3) maintain the sparse haunting elegance of the prose without a glitch – no easy task in an alternate reality where orgiastic foursomes get the same amount of detached observance as the shredding of a daikon root. Read more