Monday, December 26, 2011

Is Murakami a Letdown?

Oh Murakami . . .

His novel, 1Q84, was the most hyped literary release of the year (its English translation, that is). I mean, a huge deal. The novel was published in Japan two years ago, and finally hit the shelves in the US in April. So, how critically acclaimed has the novel been? Well, not very . . .

"1Q84 is an enormous letdown - rather like a big budget, much publicized Hollywood film that cost over $200 million but leaves you feeling that it was overstuffed and 45 minutes too long . . . Trying to say anything definite about 1Q84 is like trying to nail Jello to a wall. It's an elaborate puzzle in which the pieces seem to change shape just as you try to fit then into place or a puzzle which, when assembled, adds up to a picture of a perfect blank." - Allen Barra (The Atlantic)

"Don't get stuck in the quicksand of 1Q84. You, sucker, will wade through nearly one thousand uneventful pages . . . 1Q84 has even Murakami's most ardent fans doing back flips as they try to justify this book's glaring troubles." - Janet Maslin (The New York Times)

A year or two ago, I agreed to read a Murakami novel with some friends of mine. We decided upon A Wild Sheep Chase. And, as I read these reviews for 1Q84, I felt like I had already read a Murakami novel that is so amorphous and bizarre, with hints of great writing and sensible characters, that I don't need another Murakami experience. My friends, on the other hand, loved A Wild Sheep Chase. But for me, it was too hard to tie down. As we discussed the novel back then, we decided that the randomness of the novel can be attributed to Japanese culture (which none of us claim to understand). But I'm just not sure.

That is my opinion on Murakami: I'm just not sure.

And it sounds like 1Q84 is more of the same?

1 comment:

  1. My foray into Murakami consists of just two short stories: "The Little Green Monster," which I didn't like, and another than must have been so unremarkable that I don't remember anything about it just a month or two later.

    I'm not ready to make any sweeping pronouncements about him just yet, but you can enter my experience into evidence if you wish.