1Q84: Trapped Me in Alternate Existence

Author: Haruki Murakami (Translated to English by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel)
Genre: Alternate History, Parallel Worlds
Publisher: Vintage Books
Publication (English Version): October 25th, 2011 (Paperback: January 22nd, 2013)
Pages: 1157 Pages

1Q84 is my first ever Haruki Murakami’s. I heard that his works are not for everyone but one day a friend of mine insisted that I have to read at least this one book. Months later, in my way home I felt quite sad and I know what is going to cure it immediately: buying a new book. So I stopped by at Periplus Setiabudi Bandung and this book was on the front display.

My first thought was,”what a beautiful cover!” then I recognized it was Haruki Murakami, the author I’ve been planned to read. Most people might would pick his lighter books, but I didn’t feel intimidated by this heavy, over than a thousand-pages piece. That is how I fell in love with this piece. Even now, after I read a lot of Murakami’s works, I still think that this is his masterpiece. I still feel the post-reading hangover.

1Q84 is a beautiful tale, mixture of fantasy, mystery, and sweetest love story being told in the most realist way despite the fact that the whole story is thick with its surrealist aura. The story is set on the  year 1984, began with a young woman called Aomame who entered the alternate reality, a world which has two moons, that she called “1Q84”. In the meantime, we met an awkward guy who works as a math tutor, but also an aspiring writer named Tengo. Tengo got a project to work as a ghostwriter to an amateur yet promising manuscript written by a beautiful, dyslexic high school girl. As their story continue, we found lots of mysterious occurrences and  people connecting them for the second time of their life (as Tengo and Aomame were former classmates).

I can see why Murakami's works are not the kind of fiction that would make people in general being a die-hard fan. There are a lot of implicit messages in his writings. This book is not a light book at all. It involves magical realism, mysterious religion cult, sex, and feminism, but Murakami didn’t make it feel heavy at all. This book kinda reminds me of George Orwell’s 1984 – the best dystopian fiction about alternate reality in 1984 – but while Orwell is darkly mind blowing and quite serious, Murakami wrote it in some kind of mesmerizing melody. The whole book feels like a fairytale. His words are tangled in lyrical sentences, reading his works is like listening to soothing calm music at night. He can make a “preparing dinner” scene sounds poetic and wonderful as if we can actually smell the food that his characters cook and feel the warmth. This book transferred me to my own parallel existence. Reading this trapped me in the Murakami world, the world I don’t find in any other writers. Even though the world didn’t have two moons and it didn’t transfer me to the world my soulmate writes in order to fulfill my destiny and meet the love of my life as Tengo did to Aomame, I did fall for Murakami. Deeply in love with him. This book leaded me to his other works, but this is will always be my favorite.

I bought the paperback 3-in-1 vintage international version with cover by Chip Kidd, which is quite weighty but is simply beautiful. But if you had more budget, I really recommend you to buy the hardcover 3-in-1 one. It is quite pricey and of course, a bit heavier but it is really lovely. You can take the transparent dust jacket and reveal the inner cover which is showing the face of the pretty japanese girl with huge white 1 Q 8 4 letters on it. It’s real fancy I am considering to buy another copy. I think Periplus got them both, and even the separated volumes version (the book is divided into three volumes).

So, if you’re looking for a brave and elegant tale being told in a really modest way, you should really try this one. This piece is full of good kind of weirdness, deep philosophical symbolism but instead of makes you thinking too much, you would just lilt to what Murakami wrote.

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