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Japan: ‘1Q84′, the new bestseller by Haruki Murakami

“In your sky how many moons are floating?”. This the catch phrase of 1Q84 [ja], Ichi Kew Hachi Yon, (Q in Japanese reads the same as 9), the new 2 volume work by the bestselling writer Haruki Murakami, that in less than two weeks has already sold more than 960.000 copies.

1Q84. By Flickr usr id:semicolon

1Q84. By Flickr usr id:semicolon

Thanks to a cleverly silent promotional campaign, in which merely the title and the release date were announced, only those who bought it know what kind of world Murakami has created for his readers this time.

The book will be soon translated into other languages but in the meantime some Japanese bloggers, who devoured the book in few days, have already been debating the eagerly awaited novel.

Fushigi quotes what Murakami said in an interview appearing on Time magazine last September.

I've been writing that book for close to two years and it's going to be the biggest book I've ever written.
All my books are weird love stories. I love weird love stories. And this book is a very long, weird love story.

But how did the readers actually interpret the story and what fascinated them most? Below we present some quotes of bloggers who analyze in their posts the atmosphere, the message and the content of 1Q84… making sure not to reveal any significant details of it!

The blogger at Life is a MacGuffin seems to highlight the mysterious atmosphere of the plot.

いやあ、面白かったです。ある意味で自分の期待を裏切るような方向に話がどんどん進んでいったんですけどね。もちろん村上春樹作品なので、普通のミステリーのように最後に全てがきれいに解決するわけじゃないと覚悟はしてました。

It was fun. In a certain sense, the story kept on taking a direction opposite to my expectations. Of course, because we are speaking of a work by Haruki Murakami, I was already prepared for the fact that there is no such thing as a clear solution to the intrigue at the end as in a normal mystery.

[…]

この作品では、2つの月が浮かぶ夜空が出てきたりして、虚構であるところはあくまでも虚構でしたけど、特定の団体(連合赤軍、ヤマギシズム、オウム真理教、エホバの証人)や、若い女性作家に芥川賞を取らせようとするところ(綿矢りさor金原ひとみ?)など現実世界の事象を容易に想起させる記述もありました。そういう虚構と現実のバランスがすごくよかったです。

In the story, the night sky has two moons and though it is a work of fiction at the same time, there is a mixture of elements that are easily relatable to specific groups (such as the Red Army,Yamagishism, Aum Shinrikyo, Jehovah's Witnesses) or events in the real word such as when they gave the Akutagawa Prize to a young woman writer (Lisa Wataya or Hitomi Kanehara?) etc.
Such a combination of fiction and reality is well balanced.

As in the post above, many readers noticed the significant influence in the novel of those ‘new’ religions and the associations to them related, on which Murakami investigated when he wrote the nonfiction work Underground in 1997.

Geiheimagent analyses what, in his opinion, is the message implicit in 1Q84.

もっと言ってしまえば、ポスト・オウム的な小説である。

It is a post-Aum novel.

[…]

また、治癒をとりあげて作品を眺めてみると、この作品全体が治癒の物語と呼ぶこともできよう。おそらくそれは斎藤環がうんざりする類の典型的な「トラウマ話」と呼ぶことができる。このような物語は、言ってしまえば『リーサル・ウェポン』と同様だ。しかし、『1Q84』では治癒が最終的な救済として描かれることはない。

Whilst it is a work that deals with healing, we could define the work itself a healing novel. Perhaps even a typical ‘trauma story’, the type that bores Tamaki Saito to death. It resembles ‘Lethal Weapon’. But, in 1Q84 healing is not represented as the final salvation.

[…]

 とどまり続けることがこの作品のなかでは肯定されているのだろう。あちら側に足を踏み入れることなく、別な生き方を選択することの可能性が提示されている、と言っても良い。全面的かつ最終的な救済はありえない。しんどいことは再びやってくる。しかし、それを受容しなければ、また別な幸福の可能性もあり得ないものとなる。それは的を射た意見だし、同意もできる考え方だと思う。

In this work it affirms the value of perseverance and indicates the possibility of making choices and changing ways of living without going to another world. A total and definite relief does not exist. Horrible things may happen more than once. However if we cannot accept this it will be impossible to have other chances to be happy. This is a point of view that hits the mark and I can't disagree.

Yumi51 invites people who haven't read the book yet and don't want to know the underlying details not to read this post further. (However, because we don't have any intention of spoiling it for the reader, we will only translate some innocent comments)

下巻の最初の方で村上春樹自身が以前に、この1Q84について「恐怖」がテーマの一つとなる作品だみたいなことを言ってたらしい、ということを思い出して、納得した。
その恐怖って言うのも、派手なものじゃなくて、だんだんと得体のしれない何かが、自分を蝕んでいったり、身の回りにおかしなことを起こしたりする、っていう感じの「恐怖」。
映画で例えるなら「シャイニング」?
最近読んだ本で例えるなら「ねじの回転」?
主人公たちのまわりが少しずつおかしくなって、だんだんと親しい人がいなくなるあたり。
恐怖が忍び寄ってくる感じは印象的だった。

Reading the first part of the second volume, I could feel satisfied with the development of the story when some Murakami's words came to my mind and I remembered that he had previously announced that the theme of this work would be “fear”.
That fear is not represented in a theatrical way. It is an enigmatic and creeping sense; a weird indefinite something that causes strange happenings in the people around you. If it was a movie, I'd say maybe ‘The Shining’ or to compare it with a book I read recently I'd say ‘The Turn of the Screw‘.
The people surrounding the protagonists get weirder little by little and one by one people disappear.
The obscure fear that creeps up on the reader left in me a very deep impression.

[…]

1Q84が今までにない、というか新鮮だなと自分が感じたのは「私には愛があります」みたいなことを言えちゃう主人公の存在。
大事なところで、そんなストレートで暗示的じゃないことを言う主人公は今までいなかった気がする。
1Q84の主人公は、そもそも女だし。

What I felt as original in 1Q84 is the presence of a protagonist who really can express feelings and say such things as “I can love”.
The important thing is that it is a protagonist who speaks straightforwardly and without ‘beating about the bush’ and, above all, the protagonist in 1Q84 is a woman!

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