Exclusive: The First Lines of Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84

July 18, 2011 | 2 books mentioned 16

Update: Read our review of Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, his “finest work,” according to our reviewer.

coverOne of the fall’s most hotly anticpated novels (on this continent, at least) is Haruki Murakami’s massive new book 1Q84. The book’s release was a publishing event in Japan in June 2009, selling over 100,000 copies there in its first week. Now, after over two years, the three-volume novel (released here in one volume and in the UK in two volumes, with parts one and two translated by Jay Rubin and part three by Philip Gabriel) will hit shelves.

Because of the very long lead time and because Murakami has an engaged and sometimes bilingual fan base, anything you might want to know about the book is available just a Google search away — and fans have tried their hands at translating snippets and sections as well — but until now we haven’t gotten a glimpse of how the novel will open, with Murakami’s prose rendered in Rubin’s translation. As is often the case with Murakami’s work, music figures prominently in the opening paragraph of 1Q84, specifically mentioning Sinfonietta by Leoš Janáček a Czech composer of the late 19th and early 20th century.

Here it is, the opening paragraph of 1Q84:

The taxi’s radio was tuned to a classical FM broadcast. Janáček’s Sinfonietta—probably not the ideal music to hear in a taxi caught in traffic. The middle-aged driver didn’t seem to be listening very closely, either. With his mouth clamped shut, he stared straight ahead at the endless line of cars stretching out on the elevated expressway, like a veteran fisherman standing in the bow of his boat, reading the ominous confluence of two currents. Aomame settled into the broad back seat, closed her eyes, and listened to the music.

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.


  1. Thank you!

    I hear he invents new words in the original and am excited to see how this goes in the translation. Very excited!

  2. I am so excited about the release of Murakami’s latest novel. I’ve every book one of his books that have been translated into English and can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

  3. It’s been out in Swedish since April (except part 3 which will be out this fall). I’ve read the first two books and they are classic Murakami. I’m a big fan, and was NOT disappointed by this new huge novel.

  4. At last the english translation!! I’ve read the Dutch translation of 1q84, but I prefer Jay Rubin’s style over anyone anyday. Good book though, not his best and tends to draw on a bit in the third book. But all in all a beautiful love story about 2 soulmates in a strange universe.

    Murakami for the nobelprize!!!

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