Attention All You Murakami-Loving Cats

Aug 30th, 2011 in Books

The New Yorker has published (at the link way below) the first extended excerpt from Haruki Murakami’s new, 1000-page novel, 1Q84, which will be released on October 25th. Not surprisingly, it appears that felines will be a quintessential part of the equation.

The novel was originally published in Japan as a trilogy in 2009 and 2010. Knopf will publish the novel in the United States in a single volume on October 25, 2011.  The title is a play on the Japanese pronunciation of the year 1984, a reference to George Orwell’s seminal novel.

According to various sources:

“The events of the story take place in fictionalized 1984, with the first volume set between April and June, the second between July and September, and the third between October and December.  The narrative is composed of two storylines that alternate by chapter. The book opens with on character’s (Aomame’s) perspective as she catches a taxi in Tokyo on her way to a work assignment, noticing that Janáček’s Sinfonietta [Lefort:  Any novel that references the great Czech composer, Janacek, in the first chapter is bound to be great.]  is playing on the radio. When the taxi gets stuck in a traffic jam on the expressway, the driver suggests that she get out of the car and climb down an emergency escape in order to make her important meeting. Aomame makes her way to a hotel in Shibuya, where she poses as a hotel attendant in order to assassinate a hotel guest. She performs the murder with a tool that leaves almost no trace on its victim, leading investigators to conclude that he died a natural death.

As the story unfolds, Aomame has several bizarre experiences, including a string of memories that do not line up with the archives of major newspapers. One of them concerns a group of extremists who are engaged in a standoff with police in the mountains of Yamanashi Prefecture. Upon reading these articles, she concludes that she must be living in an alternate reality, and suspects that she entered it about the time she heard the Sinfonietta on the radio.”

And that’s just the first chapter and segment of the novel.  In typical Murakami fashion, the novel will undoubtedly get only more fantastical and fantastic thereafter.

The novel entails the usual Murakim matters:  murder, history, cult religion, violence, family ties, cats and love. The Japan Times reviewer said that the novel “may become a mandatory read for anyone trying to get to grips with contemporary Japanese culture“, calling 1Q84 Haruki Murakami’s “magnum opus.”

We’ve loved Murakami’s other-worldly novels (especially The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Kafka on the Beach) and can’t wait to delve into 1Q84. If you haven’t read any Murakami, we encourage you to do so.  Just be prepared for lots of magic and some realism, and all as set in (mostly) contemporary Japan. 

Check out the New Yorker excerpt HERE.  And while you’re at it, you might as well have the Sinfonietta playing in the background per below.

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