1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

cover-1Q84To begin things with things, I have the tendency to pronounce the title of this book as ‘I Q Eighty Four’ instead of ‘One Q Eighty Four’. The title itself can obviously mean many things in the book. Of course, the reason for the book title is given half way through the first book (yes, it is a trilogy.) It is made pretty clearly that IQ84 stands as a name for the world that Anomame (the main character of this book) has stumbled on. It is to remind her that the world is no longer the 1984 that she had known. But this also alludes something else. Many critics had said that 1Q84 rivals George Orwell’s 1984, being like a parallel Asian literature form of it. It can be observed that 1984 has been alluded many times in the book. It is clear that Haruki Muakami loves putting reference to other writers in his book. I remember laughing out loud when Charles Dickens was mentioned. The memory of suffering to read his Great Expectations hit me really hard.

1Q84 is a dystopian  story.  I’ve read plenty of stories of this genre before, like Fahrenheit 451, George Orwell’s famous 1984, and The Giver. They all had their ups and downs in the world. In Fahrenheit 451, it was the burning of the books. In The Giver, it was all about sameness to avoid any form of war breaking out in the community. Dystopian stories are stories that take place in a completely different world from our own, and mostly focuses on the government and the political things that are happening inside the world. It’s interesting, to explore a completely new world that is different from our current world, and realize that even a perfect world has its flaws.

The trilogy of 1Q84 has a very twisted plot line. Everything starts with one of our two main characters, Anomame whose name literally means ‘Green Peas’. This somehow reminds me of the power of the difference between languages. For someone who is fluent in English and Bahasa Indonesia, reading the word ‘Anomame’ seems normal. It actually is just a name. A cute one, in fact. But to Haruki Muraki and to his Japanese readers, having a character named literally ‘Green Peas’ must be hilarious. Imagine if The Great Gatsby is named ‘Green Peas.’ Must be too hilarious for the reader to take the story seriously.

And then we have Tengo. The mathematician who is also really good at writing too. I envy Tengo, sometimes. He’s good at both the base subjects. Once someone is good at Math, this means they can automatically solve physic problems too and they can be an engineer, a physician, and many other things. Being good at writing means that you’re also good at writing reports, books, essays etc. So Tengo is good at everything. But his life isn’t perfect. He has the potential, and he’s trying to open it up, but it has yet to hit him yet and radically change his life. I’m talking about the start of the book.

Green Peas, or sometimes known as Anomame, is a serial killer. Yes, someone with a hilarious name is a serial killer and kills. But she’s not a cold blooded killer. She does that to protect someone. Most of the people she killed (she barely killed more than five people, mind you), are man who had abused their wife and beaten them to the point they’re not recognized anymore. This somehow reminds me of Helen, Ed Deepneau’s wife from Stephen King’s Insonmia. And that three month old baby who was just a cameo, but was said to be thrown across the room by his father for crying too much.

An eye for an eye.

Meanwhile on the other side of the spectrum, while Anomame is a very physically strong woman, Tengo is exercising his mental abilities. Somehow, Tengo found himself to get an opportunity to ghost-write a book with a mysterious girl that has the ability to make a literature sensation. Turns out that book not only has caused a stir, but has also been the truth on what really happened. And there are some beings in the other world that does not want anybody to find out about that.

Tengo and Anomame’s fate gradually intertwines together, wrapping itself around them. The reader could spend ten thousand chapters just waiting for them to reunite. And yes, by reunite I meant that they have met each other in the past. But not only just growing up differently has separated them. They soon found themselves thrown into another world, a world Anomame calls IQ84 and Tengo calls Cat Town, and they have to find each other in that world.

There’s just so much to say about this trilogy, I barely even skimmed the surface of it. But Haruki Murakami has proven to be one of my favorite Asian Literature writers, next to Mo Yan (Read Big Breasts, Wide Hips, and totally going to read his Shifu, You’ll Do Anything for A Laugh one day). He has wrote many books, and I’ve had the opportunity to read just two of them: The Wind Up Bird Chronicles, and IQ84. Other notes about Haruki Murakami is that he’s a Japanese Writer whose books who have been translated to more than 50 languages. His books are a bestseller in Japan. More like the Japanese “Stephen King” or “Jodi Picoult.”

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