Neither Here Nor There

Haruki Murakami
Knopf, $30.50, 944 pp.

At the beginning of Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, a taxi driver in 1984 Tokyo suggests that his passenger, a young woman late for an appointment, beat the traffic by stepping out of his cab and walking to the nearest emergency pull-off. He follows his advice with a warning: “After you do something like that, the everyday look of things might seem to change a little. Things may look different to you than they did before. But don’t let appearances fool you. There’s always only one reality.”

“There’s always only one reality” isn’t something you’d expect to hear in a novel containing telepathic cult leaders, multiple moons, and prescient crows. But within the first few pages of Murakami’s mysterious novel, the sentence appears twice, and once in bold type. The words form a seemingly impossible law that the rest of the novel dares us—and its characters—to contradict.

We often take for granted that there are multiple realities. The notion that my experience, your experience, the bottom of the ocean, and the far side of the moon all exist in the same reality is hard to swallow. At the end of a long day, we pick up a novel with the expectation that we are entering another world, or at least another version of this one. But Murakami’s taxi driver is not the last character in this book to warn against the ease of parallel worlds. “This is no imitation world, no imaginary world, no metaphysical...

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About the Author

Jonathan Tuttle is a writer and graduate student in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.