Category Archives: 1Q84

1Q84 Cover Unveiled

1Q84

As you can see above, Knopf has unveiled the cover of Haruki Murakami’s forthcoming, massive novel, 1Q84. It’s quite a pretty cover.

To mark the occasion, Knopf’s blog has an informative conversation with uber-designer Chip Kidd on how he built the cover:

Logistically the title is a book designer’s dream, because its unique four characters so easily adapt it to a very strong, iconic treatment . . .

Upon reading the manuscript, it soon occurred to me that the duality of Aomame’s situation could be represented by an interaction of the book’s jacket with the binding/cover underneath. By using a semi-transparent vellum for the jacket, and printing the woman’s image in a positive/negative scheme with the title on the outside layer and the rest of her on the binding, once the jacket is wrapped around the book it ‘completes’ the picture of her face.

If you head on over to the Knopf blog, they have images where you can see exactly what Kidd means.

1Q84 Street Date

If you’re one of the Murakami people out there, Amazon now lists 1Q84 for Oct 25 (though sans cover).

The page count is 928, compared to 1662 for the Japanese trilogy, so looks like this is only volumes 1 and 2, as I suspected.

It’ll be interesting to see how this one stacks up. Murakami can do some interesting stuff when he’s on, but pretty much everything since The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle has been bland. Hope this one is good!

1Q84: English-language Publication To Start in Sept 2011

Scooped up by Knopf, as expected. Interestingly, the article only mentions the first 3 volumes, and as we all now know there'll be more, but I'd doubt that the rest wouldn't go to Vintage/Knopf as well.

Also interestingly, English-language readers will have to buy this one in at least two separate volumes. Murakami-lovers will recall that, though The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was similarly published in a serial format in Japan, U.S. readers got it all in one lump sum. Not this time:

Harvill Secker and Vintage are delighted to have acquired an ambitious trilogy from the extraordinary Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami. 1Q84 is comprised of three books, the last of which has only recently been announced in Japan for publication there next summer. The first two volumes came out in Japan this year with no information about their content being released before publication. They caused a sensation and 2.23 million copies are already in print. The books are set in the fictionalised and distorted year of 1984 between the months of April and June, July and September, and October and December. UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, have been acquired and Harvill Secker will publish the first two volumes in a single edition simultaneously with Knopf in the States in September 2011.

More 1Q84 to Come

Didn’t realize there was a third volume in the works:

Shinchosha Publishing Co. put up posters Monday in 25 stations in the greater Tokyo area advertising a third volume in Haruki Murakami’s best-selling novel “1Q84.”

Murakami is currently working on the story, aiming for a release next summer, sources said. Sales of the first and second volumes, which hit the market in late May, have sold more than 2.2 million copies in all.

The ads, posted in stations including Tokyo and Yokohama, say, “We will continue receiving invaluable things from the story.”

Lengthy Review of Murakami’s 1Q84

Another review of 1Q84, rather substantial.

I can’t remember the last time a foreign-language book was covered as thoroughly in English upon publication as 1Q84. We’ve already seen The Guardian report on it, this long review, and Murakami discussing it in a recent interview.

From the most recent review:

To a certain extent, 1Q84 is the simple love story that Murakami suggests, centered on the image of the jazz standard “It’s Only a Paper Moon.” But, of course, the book includes an array of other themes, some handled better than others. Murakami’s word choices, specifically a couple of terms he uses with frequency, identify these major themes of the novel and reveal how he uses Aomame and Tengo within the novel.

First, something is rotten in Tokyo in 1984. Numerous intrigues are described as usankusai: fishy, shady or suspicious. An editor conspires to ghost-write a novel and have it win the Akutagawa Prize, Japan’s most prestigious award for up and coming writers. A secret religious cult (loosely based on radical movements of the ’60s and religious cults like Aum Shinrikyo) plots some terrible evil in its Yamanashi Prefecture compound. A wealthy, landed woman wages a covert war on misogyny. The world undergoes abrupt, strange, and highly specific changes, and that trip to the dark side of the moon is more literal than you might expect.

More Murakami in The Quarterly Conversation

More Information on Murakami’s 1Q84

Between the widespread use of the Internet and Murakami’s huge reputation in English-speaking countries, it seems like 1Q84 is the most-widely-covered-upon-publication non-English title ever. Well, whether or not, here’s more:

“1Q84″ begins with a female protagonist, Aomame, descending an emergency staircase to an alternative reality. Though oblivious at first of having accomplished this feat, she starts to notice tiny peculiarities such as an adjustment in police firearms. Observations at odds with her memory add up and Aomame becomes increasingly confused. Yet she is, for no particular reason, easy to relate with — a fact that becomes unsettling after we watch her commit a series of murders and even sleep comfortably naked next to the corpse of a one-night stand.

And later:

Though the initial sales of “1Q84″ have come from name recognition and media buzz, as time passes, it could be received as Murakami’s magnum opus, or at least the best novel of 200Q. This novel — mired in death and fetish, leavened with humor — may become a mandatory read for anyone trying to get to grips with contemporary Japanese culture.

Related Content

Murakami Interivew

Via the Literary Saloon I see a two part interview with Murakami dealing with his recent work, including his new novel, 1Q84.

Q: For the first time in one of your full-length novels, the narrative is given in the third-person. However, an intimacy close to that of a first-person narrative is maintained, and the young people in it are beautifully depicted. This made me realize once again that, even though you have been writing novels for the past 30 years, your work is still literature about early adulthood.

A: As they age, authors usually write well about the generation they’re in. I’m more interested in young people who are living in the present day and continuing to mature. I don’t mingle with people in their 20s and I know little about mobile phone novels or anime works. But I think these factors have little to do with the art of creating an “actual” story.

When I was 30 years old, I could only write well about my 30-year-old self. But I managed to write about a 15-year-old boy in “Kafka on the Shore” and a 19-year-old girl in “After Dark” as if writing about myself. In this work, I wanted to start the story by describing the feelings of 10-year-old Aomame. In particular, I wanted to delve deeper into how women feel or think in this work.

Since I was writing this story day after day over a long period of time, I came to feel like I was living together with the characters in the story and came to understand more clearly what kind of people they were. I would revise my writing over and over again to fine-tune it. Changing one descriptive word or a line of sentence can sometimes bring a certain character to life.

1Q84: It IS About Orwell

The Guardian reports that Haruki Murakami’s gigantic new novel, 1Q84, is rooted in George Orwell’s novel 1984:

Murakami has now admitted that he had “long wanted to write a near-past novel similar to George Orwell’s futuristic novel 1984″ and that this was one of the inspirations for the book. Another was the series of interviews with Aum victims which he conducted following the 1995 gas attacks, and published as Underground.

Underground takes the form of a series of interviews conducted in the wake of the gas attacks on Tokyo’s subway system in 1995. Therein, Murakami explores everday Japanese citizens’ response to the event, as well as the roots and form of the radical religious sect that carried out the attacks. The Guardian goes on to note that:

The two-part 1Q84 follows the story of a school teacher who has dreams of becoming a novelist, Tengo, and a single woman, Aomame, who works for a gym. Their lives are told in the third person in alternating chapters, as they search for each other aged 30 after parting at the age of 10. Running to 1,000-odd pages, the book also deals with cults – Tengo becomes fascinated by a girl who has escaped from a cult – rape and domestic violence. It proved an instant bestseller in Japan when it was published at the end of May, but there is no word yet about when an English translation will be forthcoming.

The Guardian also reports that the 1000+-page novel was written over the course of only two years.

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