1Q84 is the first novel by Murakami I have read. I did listen to the audiobook of Wild Sheep Chase and have also read (and am now re-reading) the non-fiction What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Three quick points:
1, for such a long novel (published in three volumes in Japan), it felt like a “light” read. That is, I never felt the weight of all those words and pages; I just kept reading, with little effort, and without skimming. I always skim, but not with this book. I read every word carefully, and yet I found the pages slipping by as easily as the clouds that play an on-going role in the story.
2, Having never read a Murakami novel before, I did not know what to expect. Therefore, I read it with delight. Then I started to check out reviews and such. Man. There are a lot of people out there who spoil the pleasure of a good book by reading it for critical purposes. Maybe after I read some of his other books, like Norwegian Wood, an international bestseller, I might look back at 1Q84 and realize: Hm, it wasn’t that great.
Or maybe not.
3, 1Q84 was written after Running – in fact, he mentions starting a new novel in Running and I think 1Q84 was that novel. Several things in Running stand out as clues: a massage he got in Tokyo from a young woman that was brutal on his incredibly tight muscles and left him drenching with sweat; that’s Aomame’s work in 1Q84. Recounting an ultramarathon he ran and feeling as if he’d shifted to another place; also 1Q84 (but, given the role of fantasy in all his works, maybe it’s just what he does and I don’t know it yet). Whatever. I do think that a memoir based on his life as a runner preceding this novel was not a coincidence.
Maybe I can ask him someday.
The book is 928 pages. It ended too soon. And it ended almost perfectly. I can’t speak to his other novels (yet) but I can say this: I enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed any work of fiction.