Japanese author Haruki Murakami‘s new 900+ page book IQ84 has received rave reviews since it was published in English this past week.

Praise for the book came after it already racked up similar attention in Japan, being nominated for various awards since its three volumes were released between 2009 and 2010.

IQ84 is a reference to George Orwell‘s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the classic dystopian novel that has grown into the stuff of legend since its publication in 1949. Murakami’s work tells a complex story through the use of intertwining narratives, all taking place in the year 1984.

As WBUR in Boston, Massachusetts explored in a lengthy and well-written piece, the events and themes in IQ84 are told with the aid of music. Important scenes in the story are given specific musical accompaniments, from Bach to the Beatles.

As the piece states, Music is the key to much of what happens in the book. As the story begins, she hears Leos Janacek’s “Sinfonietta.” The music transports her into another world, where she starts thinking about her one true love, our other main character Tengo, even though she hasn’t seen him since they were 10 years old. For all his modernity, Murakami is really a romantic.

Music is almost its own character in the story, as crucial to the developments and thematic progression as the characters themselves.

In addition to the presence of music, religion is also a central issue that concerns many of the book’s notable figures.

Many of the characters in the book are recovering from their parents’ involvement in religious cults. Religion is at the heart of this epic. There’s no Big Brother in this 1984, but there is an unsettling sense that religious leaders, particularly fundamentalists of all stripes, have gotten too powerful and have way too much influence.

The rest of WBUR’s article details even more about the intricacies that Murakami put into the epic novel. This is really quite an impressive accomplishment, as Murakami has seamlessly blended styles, themes, and motifs into a sprawling book that may come to be his career-defining moment.


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