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1Q84: When Small Things Matter

January 31, 2015

1Q84

1Q84

by

Haruki Murakami

Publisher: Vintage Books

Publication Date: 22/01/2013

Have you ever thought that a small incident might change your live drastically ? Might be not. So does it for Masami Aomame. Never once she thought that stepping down an emergency ladder in a highway will bring her into a new world. A World where history cracks, where there are two moons hanging in the sky, the world where the ‘Little People’ control it so much with their magic. Masami Aomame is not an ordinary women. She’s a gym instructor, a martial arts tutor, and a skilled assassin. She doesn’t simply kill people for money, only those who are abusing their wives. A trauma from the past made her assassin.

She worked with a dowager who provide her with information and instruction on who and where to kill their victims, while Aomame decides on how to kill them. Aomame kill them using a modified needles that can ‘send someone to the other side’ with no trace at all. It will looks like a heart attack.

Aomame’s extraordinary life shited into a more extremely extraordinary way when a taxi driver ‘drives’ her into the new world, a world which she called the 1Q84, replasing the 9 in 1984, the year when this story happened. Q in Japanese can be read as Kyu, which stands for the number 9. Aomame finally drives into the 1Q84 world to find an mystical adventure related to magic, assassination, underage sex, brainwashing, which all lead to a cult called the Sakigake. In this world, she also finds what she have been looking these past years.

Have you ever think that doing an interesting taboo can change your life drastically ? Maybe yes. It is what Tengo Kawana have been thinking about when he accepted his editor’s challenge. Komatsu, his editor ‘challenged’ him to rewrite a unique novel written by a 17 years old girl named Fuka Eri. The novel entitled “Air Chrysalis” is one of kind. The storyline is intriguing, but the writing style is a little bit weird. That is why Tengo decided to rewrite it, to make it more ‘edible’.

Tengo is an amateur writer (because he never published anything), and also a mathematic teacher at a prep school. He lives a boring life. He teaches, and writes novel, he is a good teacher, and also a good novelist, but he always overshadowed by his bad luck that made him hardly win anything for his novel. When Tengo decided to rewrite Fuka Eri’s weird novel, he caught himself in a train of trouble. Not that kind of trouble that made him go to jail, he is now entering a world where magic is real, little people are controlling the world, tailed by a private investigator, the Sakigake Cult, the Air Chrysalis, and an answer to his past.

Are you confused with my way of reviewing this ? I’m only copying Murakami’s style in this novel. He wrote the chapter in this pattern. First chapter is Aomame’s story, then the second one is Tengo, the third one is Aomame, and so on. Aomame-Tengo-Aomame-Tengo. Up until the third book when we are introduced into another character, Ushikawa, whose point of view gives us a complete package to the story.

Murakami wrote this novel nicely. The relationship of the characters are intactly build. With is overly –some said overly, but I say this overly-ness is good- detailed, we can feel what the character is feeling. He can write about how Aomame open a referigerator in one full page. He can also made us feel the atmosphere of the story. One of them is by mentioning a music which reflects the current situation of the sotry. He also loves to include another story in his story. One of them is about the Cat Town –which is written by himself- and the Gilyak People by Anton Chekhov.

Many people –especially those who are newcomer to Murakamis- will get confused reading this novel. There are many surrealistic experience in it, which made you think long enough about what is happening. Like when the Little People are exiting from a mouth of a dead dog, or how an NHK fee collector who is knocking the door harshly (reflecting Tengo’s father -in some way- who is in a coma).

I can relate Murakami style here to a theory in math called the Chaos Theory. It is a little change in a dynamic system that can lead into a very big change. The popular name of the theory is the butterfly effect, in which a flap of a butterfly wings can make a typhoon in another place. Sounds confusing ? Indeed. But that is so really not the reason to not read this novel. Make it the reason to read this. Maybe you’ll find another view ?

Life is something complex. The interhuman relationship made a complex network that affects one another. In the other side, human life is also dynamic, it is always moving, which of course, affects that complex network. A little event, a short meeting, something you think unimportant can change your life in split second. And of course, there is a little fight in every one of you, is it right ? or is it wrong ? Which one is right, and which one is wrong. All of those questions are neatly packed by Haruki Murakami in this novel.

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