August Discussion 1Q84 Part 2Let’s discuss Book 2 of 1Q84! Read through my discussion prompts below, then add your thoughts on those or anything else you felt was important to you. Feel free to ask a question for me (or other book club buddies) to answer. And remember to check back to see if people have replied to your comments.

**WARNING** The discussion prompts and comments below will contain spoilers for 1Q84 Book 1 and Book 2. Only continue if you have read book 1 & 2!) And if you have read further please limit your responses to content covered in book 1 & 2.

Book 1 Discussion can be found here:

Murakami is combining both sci-fi and fantasy elements throughout 1Q84, can you think of any examples of other writers who do this within their stories?

I’m sure that this is a common thing to occur in literature, and yet I can only think of a few examples myself. Last month’s book club read ‘The Sudden Appearance of Hope’ did, and some of Stephen King’s stories blend sci-fi and the paranormal or supernatural. I am enjoying the ‘loose’ nature of blending the two. It makes the plot far more ambiguous where it is not clear if the story is a fantasy, or a scientific/futuristic story with established parallel dimension tropes.

 Are there any internal conflicts characters are experiencing which you have noticed?

Many characters in 1Q84 seem to be passionate about reading/learning, and seek to understand the complex (and occasionally bizarre) things which are occurring around them but this is often counter balanced by rather extreme lassitude. Tengo for example is clearly very intelligent, he teaches mathematics and writes in his spare time. He also appears to read very widely, and once he has a topic in mind researches it thoroughly. However he also seems to pass huge amounts of time doing virtually nothing and ignoring some of the ‘problems’ which are stacking up around him. I have found this contrast fascinating.

“Aomame did not want to die ignorant, failing to grasp how things worked.”

How do you feel about Tamaru?

The more I learn about Tamaru and his backstory the more I love him. I think that he, like Aomame is a very strong character with a very specific moral code that he lives by. It is clear how he has been shaped by his past, and his vulnerability in revealing his history to Aomame was one of the loveliest moments of trust and a strange kind of friendship in this book, for me.

“Tamaru is a man who keeps his word. He might kill you without hesitation if necessary, but even so, he would care for your rubber plant to the end.”

The moon features heavily in 1Q84, why do you think that is?

I’m going to let you folks answer this one, as I’m not sure I know myself! My only theory is that the moon features in many Japanese folktales, and is generally considered around the world to be mystical and mysterious.

“The moon was as taciturn as ever. But it was no longer alone.”

Did you have a favourite quote from Book 1 or 2?

Mine was: “There is nothing in this world which never takes a step outside a person’s heart.”

I loved this poetic expression of the thought that you can’t help but express in some way the things which you treasure and love.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts, and to reading the final section! Don’t forget to use #babblingbookclub if you are posting photos on Instagram, all my favourites are featured on the Babbling Book Club account!

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  1. Hi!
    As always, I really enjoy reading your insights into the books under discussion. ?
    •There are many writers who combine elements of fantasy and sf. The entire steampunk subgenre does this- the stories often feature fairies, magic, and dragons, and then get quite scifi with the machines and inventions. A lot of magic realism will also hint at tropes of both genres. I have a number of books that I am unsure whether to shelve with fantasy, scifi, or literary fiction.
    •I feel that the strongest internal conflicts lay with Aomame: she has to decide whether to save her own life or Tengo’s, and later try to decide whether she would approach him in the park or not. Earlier, she was torn about killing The Leader, and she was even torn about the reasons: first, she wanted to kill him because he was an evil, child-raping beast, then she thought she might prefer to leave him to die slowly in great pain, instead of releasing him. Later, she seems to realize that he is a special being, and doesn’t feel right about ending him. Any internal conflicts that the others are feeling seem to be much less intense.
    •I adore Tamaru. I really liked your summation of him, I don’t have anything to add to it.
    •The role of the moon in 1Q84: I am sure others will have better insights than mine, but here goes: the moon represents the beyond, in this case 1Q84 is beyond 1984. The second moon visually defines this difference. There was also talk in the novel about the difference between insanity and lunacy (lunacy being the effect of the full moon on someone- arguably two moons would have a stronger effect than one, and both Aomame and Tengo experience dizziness and disorientation when viewing the moons). Also, some people cannot see the second moon- does this mean that they are still living in 1984? It is also ironic that people who see the second moon begin to question their own sanity (insanity vs lunacy).
    •My favorite quote is still the butterfly from Book 1: “When the time comes, though, they just quietly go off and disappear. I’m sure it means they’ve died, but I can never find their bodies. They don’t leave any trace behind. It’s as if they’ve been absorbed by the air. They’re dainty little creatures that hardly exist at all: they come out of nowhere, search quietly for a few, limited things, and disappear into nothingness again, perhaps to some other world.”
    I find so many parallels here to the story so far: the people who have disappeared, the way The Leader’s body was secreted away, Tengo and Aomame searching for each other, the way the air chrysalis and the Aomane dohta “disappear into nothingness again, perhaps to some other world…” This passage even describes the Little People themselves, to some extent. (I’m probably reading too much into this…)
    That’s all I have to say here, see you in Book 3! ?

    1. Oh how I love your comment about Aomame’s internal conflicts! You have summed it up so perfectly. She has the most intense conflicts, and the decisions she makes have (arguably) the greatest impacts on the resolution of the story!

      And what a terrific choice for your favourite quote. I don’t think you’re reading too much into it, there is a certain poetic quality about that quote and about all the sections that describe the Little People, especially when so much about them remain unknown!

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