Quests for love in Japan’s Proust
by Haruki Murakami (translated by Jay Rubin and Phillip 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.