Mr. Murakami is supposed to be very wise too. But “1Q84” has even his most ardent fans doing back flips as they try to justify this book’s glaring troubles. Is it consistently interesting? No, but Mr. Murakami is too skillful a trickster to rely on conventional notions of storytelling. Is it a play on Orwell’s “1984?” Vaguely, but don’t make close comparisons. Is it science fiction? Well, there are those two moons, plus several references to Sonny and Cher. And is it actually about anything? Don’t be silly. Mr. Murakami is far too playful and allusive an artist to be restricted by a banal criterion like that one.
Perhaps the best line in the book comes from Tengo’s editor, who says, "Don’t think too hard about this stuff. This is the magnificent world of a picaresque novel." He means the ghostwriting shenanigans, but it serves just as well for this mammoth shaggy-dog story.