1Q84, and Murakami-mania

Since I just happened to start reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle over the weekend, I thought I’d write a quick post in honor of the UK-release of Haruki Murakami’s new novel, 1Q84. (The U.S. release is scheduled for October 25).

And what a release it is, apparently (The Guardian: “Murakami’s 1Q84 launches with midnight openings“). Regardless of if you’re a fan or not, it’s cool to see people excited enough about a literary work to line up at bookstores at midnight —

“It’s not quite on a Harry Potter scale, but bookshops are gearing up to mark the publication of Haruki Murakami’s long-anticipated new novel 1Q84 with midnight openings.”

Here’s a nice article from the BBC (“Haruki Murakami: How a Japanese writer conquered the world“), which chronicles the novelist’s impressive run of success, an overview of Japanese literary culture, Murakami’s reclusiveness, as well as some insights from the English translators on Murakami’s international appeal. Favorite part for me: some of the Murakami on Murakami quotes:

  • “Some people think literature is high culture and that it should only have a small readership. I don’t think so… I have to compete with popular culture, including TV, magazines, movies and video games.” – Time Magazine, 2002
  • “For me, writing a novel is like having a dream. Writing a novel lets me intentionally dream while I’m still awake. I can continue yesterday’s dream today, something you can’t normally do in everyday life.” 

I’ve gotten into the habit of avoiding book reviews of books I intend to read as much as possible. But, The Guardian also has a review (“1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – review“) for those who are interested. Briefly noted —

“Reality, blurred by myth ancient and urban, refuses to be quite a process of cause and effect; identity is always threatening to dissolve. We may be in a parallel world; it may be just that all our individual worlds are parallel. This solipsism is both prized and the cause of much of the unease.” 

Sounds about right.

For a great sneak preview, check out The New Yorker with an excerpt of the novel: “Town of Cats

And, the opening lines of the novel:

“The taxi’s radio was tuned to a classical FM broadcast. Janacek’s Sinfonietta – probably not the ideal music to hear in a taxi caught in traffic. The middle-aged driver didn’t seem to be listening very closely, either. With his mouth clamped shut, he stared straight ahead at the endless line of cars stretching out on the elevated expressway, like a veteran fisherman standing in the bow of his boat, reading the ominous confluence of two currents. Aomame settled into the broad back seat, closed her eyes, and listened to the music.”

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