1Q84 - Jay Rubin, Philip Gabriel, Haruki Murakami Murakami's new opus, 1Q84 is already being called his masterpiece by the professional reviewers. I think they may be on to something. Here's why.

Murakami's artistic vision continues to develop. In the past, his novels could be arguably divided into two areas: 1) The romance, usually in the natural world and usually headed for sorrow, and 2) The existential fantasy where the world is lop-sided in magical realism with the protagonist struggling to understand the surreal. In 1Q84 he finally manages to unite these two themes in a very coherence epic of 900+ pages. His usual suspects of strange women and confused men are here but they are infused with a new sense of wonder and humanity that surpasses his previous works. Also, this is easily the warmest and most romantic of his books. Romantic and warmth are not usually the first words to come to mind when describing Murakami.

The plot is quite complex and takes place in the year 1984. A fitness trainer with an interesting second job rushes to meet an appointment and takes a emergency staircase off of the freeway thoroughfare to get there. In doing so, she discovers that the world has changed in small but troubling ways. The most noticeable change in this world which she dubs 1Q84 is that it has two moons. In a parallel tale, a math teacher and would-be writer reluctantly takes a job rewriting the odd fantasy novel of a 17 year old girl. Murakami tells these two stories in alternating chapters, a ploy used that is similar what he uses in his novel Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of The World. The stories merge and this is where it become quite magical as small nuances become major plot twists. While the two main characters are marvelously written there are many minor characters that also become alive and are very essential to the story; a gay bodyguard, a dowager who has an unique answer to domestic violence, and a very persistent television fee collector, to mention only a few. Murakami takes his time slowly molding each incident and each personage into the tapestry.

Regular Murakami fans will not be disappointed and new readers to Murakami will enjoy this as long as they are not intimated by the length and have a little patience. To use a term from another Goodreads reviewer,the novel moves at a glacial pace. Yet it is the kind of glacial pace that has huge pieces of ice breaking off and startling the reader at unpredictable times. Almost all of the author's quirks and themes are here but there is an intimacy and involvement in this book that Murakami may have not reached in previous works. He seems to be saying, "Here I am, like my characters, with all the risks and emotions that we humans are afraid to show but must show.". He still leaves a lot to the reader to figure out and there are plenty of questions left at the end. However, I doubt you will leave this book feeling unsatisfied. You may also have the urge to check out the window to see how many moons are in the sky.