20 May 09 | Chad W. Post

The Millions has an interesting post about the forthcoming Haruki Murakami book. Apparently, after details about Kafka on the Shore leaked out, Murakami “insisted that his fans be allowed to approach the new book with no preconceptions,” so info on the new novel is pretty scarce. The title is 1Q84, it will release on May 29th, and it will be published in two volumes. (Murakami has referred to it as “his most ambitious work to date and a ‘real doorstop.’ “)

I’m not as much as a Murakami fanatic as some people (although I really like Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World), but the strange title and complete lack of concrete information has me pretty intrigued about this novel. And I love the speculation—it’s like interpreting clues from Lost!:

One popular theory claims the book is inspired by George Orwell’s dystopian classic Nineteen Eighty-Four (the number nine in Japanese is pronounced like the English letter Q, thus in Japanese 1984 and 1Q84 have the same pronunciation). Another finds inspiration for the title in the novella The True Story of Ah Q, by Chinese novelist Lu Xun, an early 20th century writer and intellectual.

The latter opinion has been fueled by the comments of a prominent Tokyo University professor Shozo Fujii, who argues that Lu Xun is one of Murakami’s primary influences. The 1 in the book’s title, he argues, should be read as the personal pronoun I. In other words, I am Q. What the 84 might stand for is unclear. Fujii’s analysis of Murakami’s work breaks with the commonly held view of Murakami’s influences, primarily Western writers and literary heavyweights like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Dostoyevsky (a view confirmed by Murakami himself). Nevertheless, Fujii’s theory about 1Q84‘s meaning has developed a large following online, and has been bolstered by his close readings of Chinese literary themes in Murakami’s early novels, Hear the Wind Sing and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

I’m sure this will be available in English in 2012 or so, although probably in an abridged format . . .


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