Travel Books

Q is for question mark — 1Q84

October 8, 2017

Reading 1Q84 has thought me a lot about patience, perseverance and social snobbery. For one, this is a thick hardbound trilogy with about a thousand pages so I had to ignore the internet, social networks and the people around me just so I could keep my reading phase to two or three chapters per night. If I hadn’t been lying in bed while reading the book, it would have helped develop my arm muscles. So instead of grabbing an opportunity at landing on a sports illustrated magazine, I gained more weight due to massive consumption of chips on my bed.

Kidding aside, 1Q84 is another great novel deserving to be placed in the “Read Me Again” section of my library (if ever I’d really have a library). Although I must confess that, because the story was too long, the phasing of the story becomes too dragging as it approached the end, particularly the parts where a series of uncontrolled events (like the female protagonist, Aomame, had to talk to the dowager’s bodyguard on the phone while the male protagonist, Tengo, was standing on top of the slide) would prevent the three characters from meeting each other, but once you finally finished reading up to the very last page, you’ll understand the author’s meaning and purpose.

As with all the other Haruki Murakami novels I’ve read so far, 1Q84 started with a piece of music playing in the background — Janáček’s Sinfonietta — and you’d have to read the entire book to grasp the significance of that music to the development of the story.

Aomame is a skilled gym instructor who is as skillful in killing a man with a needle-like tool in mere seconds without leaving any trace. These skills and a series of peculiar events would lead her to the world of 1Q84 where logic serves no meaning. But before that, she’s a daughter of a devout religious (most probably Jehova’s Witness) who would drag her from door to door to distribute religious materials on weekends.

Tengo is a genius in everything he does — math, sports, music, writing. He’s a son of an NHK network subscription fee collector who would take him during his Sunday rounds. He teaches math at a college-admission preparatory school thrice a week and writes novels on his free time. When he conspired to re-write a story written by a seventeen-year-old dyslexic, he had dragged himself into the world where there are two moons and air chrysalises.

Together, though separated in that alternate reality, the two had to do work together to bring down a mysterious cult lead by the “voice” and the Little People.

From what I’ve read somewhere, 1Q84 was first published in Japanese with the title 1Q84 which is pronounced in Japanese as Ichi-Kyu-Hachi-Yon. Nine (kyuu) and Q (kyu) have similar Japanese pronunciations but the Japanese character for question mark is pronounced as “ka” in Japanese so I have no idea how Haruki Murakami conjured that title instead of simply opting for 1984, which lacks the same mystery brought about by the letter Q, or probably how Tengo refers to the parallel universe they got trapped into — the cat town — which also lacks the appeal that 1Q84 have caught me with.

Notable locations in 1Q84

The guys running Haruki Murakami Fan Blog created a map of the most important locations in Haruki Murakami’s novel 1Q84. Locations are marked and colored as follows: green for places related to the Aomame plot line; red for Tengo; yellow for both of them; and blue for other important or simply interesting locations.


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  • Reply
    Tyra Skinner
    October 9, 2017 at 11:11 AM

    So Aomame sounds like an interesting character. She is a daughter of a religious man but ends up using her killing skills she obtained over the years to take down a cult. I love action movies, books, things like this, so I’m intrigued by this book!

  • Reply
    Helene Choo
    October 9, 2017 at 4:38 PM

    You’ve caught my interest! Love the review because you’re giving a sort of overview without giving away too much! Now I’ll have to read the book:D

  • Reply
    Silver Surfer
    October 9, 2017 at 4:39 PM

    Quite a few interesting characters in this book. It sounds like the kind of read that you want on your reading bucket list,

  • Reply
    Neha T
    October 9, 2017 at 5:18 PM

    Wow the fan blog map of the locations got be totally amazed. Too cool I must say. Need to check this book now.

  • Reply
    Luxurious Peregrination
    October 9, 2017 at 7:47 PM

    Looks like a really interesting book. I need to get it soon. From the review you shared looks like a must read!

  • Reply
    Alexi R
    October 9, 2017 at 8:41 PM

    What a great insight of the book’s story, I’m a fan of this kind of concept, must I must say I prefer more in action (films) for books my love will be fictions and love stories (as girls preference) hopefully this book will turn into a movie in the future, I really think this is be an awesome one.

  • Reply
    October 9, 2017 at 11:25 PM

    I love the theme of the book. It’s nice to know that it revolves around such relevant topics in today’s world. Killing someone with a needle-like tool without any trace got me curious… 😉 Cheers!!

  • Reply
    Alex BetterTogether
    October 10, 2017 at 4:52 AM

    I normally like Murakami’s books however I really struggled with this one! I want to try again soon I think!

  • Reply
    Digital Travel Guru
    October 10, 2017 at 5:33 AM

    Great review and post, I have not read this but I think I will check out some of the other Murakami books and this, sounds like an interesting book and author.

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