Alison Broinowski reviews '1Q84' by Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel


by Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel

Harvill Secker, $39.95 hb, 926 pp, 9781846555497

Admirers of Haruki Murakami who waited for two years while successive parts of his twelfth novel sold millions in Japanese, are now rewarded for their patience with a big nugget of a book in English, which is already an international bestseller. The elegant cover shows an enigmatic night sky with two moons, which reappear on the endpapers and between the three parts. Rather than clutter one single page with publication details and Murakami’s numerous other fiction and non-fiction titles, the book’s designers run these in tiny print across the top and bottom margins of the eight endpapers. In the side margins of the text, ‘1Q84’appears halfway down every page, arranged as a cube, above and below which the page numbers move up and down. On the opposite pages, the page numbers also move, but both they and the title are in mirror reverse. What’s more, this idiosyncratic pattern switches over at various, apparently random intervals, from odd to even pages. Q is ku, nine in Japanese, and the letter is said to look like ‘a world that bears a question’, although the answer escapes me. Nothing in 1Q84 will be as it seems.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month, or subscribe to the print edition to receive access to ABR Online free of charge.

If you are a single issue subscriber you will need to upgrade your subscription to view back issues.

If you are already subscribed, click here to log in.

Alison Broinowski

Alison Broinowski

Alison Broinowski has been a reviewer for ABR since 1962, concentrating mainly on Asian fiction and international affairs. She is an Australian former diplomat and has taught and researched at ANU, Macquarie, and Wollongong Universities. The eleven books she has written and edited are about the interface between Australia and Asian countries.

Published in March 2012 no. 339

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.