The intimate and personal folded, nestled, and hidden within an ambitious, otherworldly, and strange vision: this is a trend that has become increasingly prominent across the arts recently, manifested in certain special, often divisive works. Among them I’d count, from cinema, Terrence Malick’s TheTree of Life and the upcoming cult classics-in-the-making Cloud Atlas and Leos Carax’s Holy Motors, and from literature the novels of David Mitchell and Mark Z. Danielewski. Within this unique category, Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 must surely stand out as nothing short of emblematic, so frequently does it threaten to throw off readers not used to his cool, perfected fusion of mundane everydayness with bizarre wonders.
But those who cling on tight and enjoy the ride through a parallel universe containing two moons, a secretive cult, and tiny magical beings called the Little People will probably be surprised to discover at its core a deeply moving story of two searching souls trying to find one another after a twenty-year gap. It is this unabashedly romantic narrative thread, so beautifully presented and explored by the author, that justifies and enhances all the puzzling oddities that surround and, in their discordant manner, compliment it. Relatability and emotional resonance will continue to be the crucial elements within wild and daunting epics like 1Q84 and Cloud Atlas; where the adventure lies for audiences is in the heights that brave artists like Murakami, Mitchell, and Carax will continue to strive for and the refreshing new directions from which they will approach simple human truths and experiences.