Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I've just finished a literary marathon - 944 pages of 1Q84 - that tested my reading stamina.  I was enthralled throughout.  Now I'm exhausted.  And I'm content.

What a marvelously intriguing book.  Trying to pin down 1Q84's genre is like putting your finger onto a blob of mercury - just when you think you have it pinned down, it scoots off in another direction.   Is 1Q84 a love story?  Yes.  Is it a mystery/thriller?  That too.  Is it fantasy?  Absolutely.

Set in 1984, the book follows two characters, Aomame and Tengo, who met in elementary school and haven't seen other since.  Their separate adventures follow trajectories that bring them ever closer.  They find themselves in a different world, not 1984, but 1Q84, a world with two moons.  And that's as much of the plot as I'm going to reveal.  I definitely recommend you read it.

Chip Kidd designed the cover for 1Q84 and it is as intriguing as the book. The multiple layers of the cover echo the parallel universes in the book - to get the whole picture, you have to look at both layers.  I became a fan of Kidd's while listening to his scintillating TED talk this year (see my post on that talk here).  1Q84 is a book that invites Kidd's creative treatment, which he describes here (in print) and here (in video).

The parallel universes of 1Q84 reminded of another talk from TED 2012 - Brian Greene's amazing description of multiverses that physics says just might be possible.  Exploring multiple universes through two totally different lenses.  Fascinating.

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