Haruki Murakami, winner of the Princess of Asturias Award for Literature, is the best-selling Japanese writer in the world, translated into fifty languages, with a unique mix of pop, surrealism, sensitivity and rawness that has already given birth to fourteen novels, five books short stories, five essays and a flood of merchandising products more typical of a rockstar than of a literary author: t-shirts, stickers, handkerchiefs, bags, magnets, posters, notebooks, mugs, origami, mobile phone cases, caps, paintings, mats for the mouse. These are some of his most successful books.
While landing at a European airport, Toru Watanabe, a 37-year-old executive, hears an old Beatles song that takes him back to his youth, to the turbulent Tokyo of the 1960s. With a mixture of melancholy and restlessness, Toru then remembers the unstable and mysterious Naoko, the girlfriend of the best and only friend of his adolescence, Kizuki. His suicide distanced Toru and Naoko for a year, until they met again and began an intimate relationship. However, the appearance of another woman in Toru’s life leads him to experience the dazzle and disappointment where everything should make sense: sex, love and death. And neither character seems capable of striking the fragile balance between youthful hopes and the need to find a place in the world.
In Japanese, the letter q and the number 9 are homophones, both pronounced kyū, so 1Q84 is, without being 1984, a date with Orwellian echoes. This variation in spelling reflects the subtle alteration of the world in which the characters in this novel inhabit, which is, also without being it, the Japan of 1984. In that apparently normal and recognizable world move Aomame, an independent woman, instructor in a gym, and Tengo, a math teacher. Both are around thirty years old, both lead solitary lives and both perceive in their own way slight imbalances in their environment, which will lead them inexorably to a common destiny. And both are more than meets the eye: the beautiful Aomame is a murderer; the nondescript Tengo, an aspiring novelist who has been commissioned by her publisher to work on La chrysalis of air, an enigmatic work dictated by an elusive teenager. And, as a backdrop to the story, the universe of religious sects, mistreatment and corruption, a rarefied universe that the narrator delves into with Orwellian precision.
‘The Commander’s Death’
In the midst of a crisis as a couple, a portrait painter of some prestige leaves Tokyo for northern Japan. Confused, immersed in memories of him, he wanders the country until, finally, a friend offers him to settle in a small isolated house, surrounded by woods, belonging to his father, a famous painter.
In short, a place to retire for a while. In that house with empty walls, after hearing strange noises, the protagonist discovers in an attic what looks like a painting, wrapped and with a label that reads: “The death of the commander.” When he decides to develop it, a strange world will open before him where Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, a commissioned portrait, a shy teenager and, of course, a commendatore, will sow unknowns in his life, which until recently was bland and routine.
This first volume of the novel The Death of the Commander is a fascinating labyrinth where everyday life is invaded by indecipherable signs, questions whose answers are still far from being glimpsed. The reader, like the protagonist, must remain very attentive.
‘First person of singular’
Adolescent loves evoked with serene nostalgia, barely glimpsed young people, jazz reviews about impossible records, a poet who loves baseball, a talking ape who works as a masseur and an old man who talks about the circle with several centers… The characters and scenes of this A highly anticipated volume of stories blows up the boundaries between imagination and the real world. And they give us back, intact, lost love, broken relationships and loneliness, adolescence, reunions and, above all, the memory of love, because “no one can take away from us the memory of having loved or of having been in love at some time in life,” says the narrator. A first-person narrator who, at times, could be Murakami himself. Is it then a book of memoirs, some stories with autobiographical overtones or a volume exclusively of fiction? The reader will have to decide.
Original Publisher: https://www.eltiempo.com/cultura/musica-y-libros/murakami-cinco-libros-imperdibles-del-celebre-autor-japones-771171