Satellites of Love
Realities split and merge in Haruki Murakami's new cosmic romance
by Haruki Murakami
translation by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel
$30.50 List Price
Haruki Murakami’s stories are forever slipping from one plane of existence to another. Whether it happens at the bottom of a well (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle) or atop a Ferris wheel (Sputnik Sweetheart) or through a television screen (After Dark), most of his characters at some point find themselves transported from what they thought was reality to a strange new unreality. But Murakami, for one, would argue that, amid the confusion of our new world disorder, those concepts are not exactly what they used to be. Writing in the International Herald Tribune last year, he wondered, “In an age when reality is insufficiently real, how much reality can a fictional story possess?” Spinning out a thought experiment, Murakami calls our actual world Reality A and the hypothetical world we might have had if 9/11 never happened Reality B. Could it be that Reality A has a “lower level of reality” than the “more rational” Reality B? Is our world less real than an unreal world? And if our sense of reality has fundamentally changed, how does that affect the stories we tell?
The characters in Murakami’s massive new novel, 1Q84, spend a good deal of time puzzling over the relationship between two realities. One is the Tokyo of 1984. The other is not exactly a parallel world—“You’ve been reading too much science fiction,” an oracular figure scoffs when someone raises that possibility—but a subtly and ominously tweaked variation, the new reality that materialized when the old one “switched tracks.” One of the book’s two main characters calls it 1Q84, “a world that bears a
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