About the Author
Haruki Murakami, born January 12, 1949, is a Japanese writer and translator. His works of fiction and non-fiction have garnered him critical acclaim and numerous awards, including the Franz Kafka Prize and Jerusalem Prize among others.
Murakami’s fiction, often criticized by Japan’s literary establishment, is humorous and surreal, and at the same time focuses on themes of alienation and loneliness. Through his work, he is able to capture the spiritual emptiness of his generation and explore the negative effects of Japan’s work-dominated mentality. His writing criticizes the decline in human values and a loss of connection among people in Japan’s society.
He is considered an important figure in postmodern literature. The Guardian praised him as “among the world’s greatest living novelists” for his works and achievements.
Audio Book Bibliography
1Q84 UNABRIDGED Narrated by Allison Hiroto, Marc Vietor, Mark Boyett 46.8 hrs
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle UNABRIDGED Narrated by Rupert Degas 26.1 hrs
Norwegian Wood UNABRIDGED Narrated by James Yaegashi 13.5 hrs
Kafka on the Shore UNABRIDGED Narrated by Sean Barrett, Oliver Le Sueur 19.13 hrs
Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World UNABRIDGED Narrated by Adam Sims, Ian Porter 14 hrs
What I Talk about When I Talk about Running: A Memoir UNABRIDGED Narrated by Ray Porter 4.5 hrs
Dance, Dance, Dance UNABRIDGED Narrated by Rupert Degas 12.7 hrs
A Wild Sheep Chase UNABRIDGED Narrated by Rupert Degas 9.6 hrs
After Dark UNABRIDGED Narrated by Janet Song 5.7 hrs
The Elephant Vanishes: Stories UNABRIDGED Narrated by John Chancer 10.5 hrs
After the Quake UNABRIDGED Narrated by Rupert Degas, Teresa Gallagher, Adam Sims 4.3 hrs
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman UNABRIDGED Narrated by Patrick Lawlor, Ellen Archer 12.7 hrs
The English-language publication of Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 has been called by some the most anticipated literary event of 2011. The book is a massive 962 page compilation of the Japanese three volume trilogy which achieved tremendous popularity in Japan. The book was translated by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel. The audio book is a very long 46 hours and 50 minutes, making it among the longest audio books published. The audio book was published by Audible Inc. and was narrated by Allison Hiroto, Marc Vietor and Mark Boyett.
Murakami writes in a magical realism genre that is his signature style. 1Q84 differs from many of his books by shifting from his usual first-person narration. Most reviews of this book are positive, however a few complain of the length and slowness of the plot, even calling it tedious. It is hard to write a very long book without creating intricate detail which some would see as an enhancing rich texture. The real issue of course with audio books, does the narration hold your interest. Nothing is worse than listening to tedious detail that is boring. This audio book is not boring and you will not be relieved when you finish listening to it. It is characteristic of magical realism that unusual, unexpected, and unbelievable events occur in what otherwise seems a rational real-world story. You will find much of this in 1Q84, as usual with Murakami. Listening to 1Q84 is like eating a luxurious 10 course meal, set back and enjoy it. For those that like fast-food books look elsewhere.
The story has two protagonists, Aomame and Tengo who are the main focus of what is essentially a love story, which emerges rather slowly and does not become fully realized until the end of the book. Aomame is a physical therapist/assassin and Tengo a math tutor/budding writer. Add to this a beautiful mysterious 17 year old autistic other-worldly girl, a dangerous religious sect and an altered reality with two moons and the “little people” and you have the main elements of this complex storyline. Aomame is narrated by Allison Hiroto and Tengo by Marc Vietor. This braided narration of Aomame’s and Tengo’s stories works well. Other background narration is by Mark Boyett.
The Audible Publisher’s Summary:
The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.
A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 – “Q” is for “question mark”. A world that bears a question.
Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.
As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.
A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s, 1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.
It’s all there: sorcery and swordplay, bandits and monsters, a hero searching for his parents’ killers, an academy of wizards and alchemists, even a hand drawn map of a pretend world in its first pages. Patrick Rothfuss’ acclaimed debut series The Kingkiller Chronicle reads like a big, fat delicious cheeseburger. It’s satisfying. There might be a few surprises; perhaps a few jalapenos and some feta cheese, but the basics are essentially the same. That’s how you make a delicious burger, and that’s how you write a wonderful fantasy tale. Perfect the flavor and tenderness of the patty. Construct realistic, intriguing characters. Melt the cheese and toast the bun just so. Create a universe with more detail than the page can hold, and let the characters run wild. If the yet to be released third volume matches the excellence of its two older siblings, Rothfuss may find himself immortalized as a fantasy great. In these books, readers will find echoes and reflections of canonized fantasy. Anne McCaffrey, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Robin Hobb have even written lush reviews for Rothfuss’ website. The Kingkiller Chronicle may inhabit the expected realm of fantasy conventions, but Rothfuss takes his readers to exciting new depths. His books read so enjoyably precisely because he does not stray from the rules of the genre. “You’ve written a fantasy novel. Deal with it. Learn to cope,” he explains.
Physically, Rothfuss more resembles a character from his books. Healthy, unkempt curls flow from atop his swollen head, suggesting the likeness of a hobbit. His long, wiry beard appears to be borrowed from a satyr or gnome, and he most often wears a devilish grin to match. A self-proclaimed geek and homebody, he admits to finding the fast pace of his new life as a successful writer sometimes overwhelming. A native of Wisconsin, a region famed for its long, boring winters, he learned early on to find solace in fantasy books. In 1991 he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, first studying chemical engineering, then clinical psychology, later changing his major to undeclared. In this time, working three jobs and scrounging for food and money in Stevens Point, he began filling his spare time by writing a sprawling fantasy novel, The Song of Flame and Thunder. In the ten years it took Rothfuss to graduate, (finally with a B.A. in English), he perfected The Song of Flame and Thunder. After nearly 50 failed query letters, he found a publisher, and so The Kingkiller Chronicle found its way out of Rothfuss’ hard drive and onto bookshelves.
At public events, fans almost invariably ask Rothfuss to explain the details of his world: “What other kinds of monsters, aside from the scrael, live in the Commonwealth?” “Does the kingdom of Aturan have any kind of common law or judicial system?” This is because there are other monsters Rothfuss has neglected to include, and there is an entire system of governance that goes far beyond what is printed on the page. When The Song of Flame and Thunder became The Kingkiller Chronicle, Rothfuss cut out nearly 100,000 words, and before that he had already conceived every aspect of his world, fully knowing the majority of his ideas would never make it on paper. The result is not just a book, but an entire universe for readers to savor, the heart and key to successful fantasy-fiction. The ability to arrange exciting work from a familiar palette is the mark of a master. You heard it here first.
Apple’s new 4th generation Shuffle iPod works surprisingly well for audiobooks. This is Apple’s cheapest iPod and sells for $49. This small 30mm x 30mm device is just over one inch square. It is easy to load and the 2GB memory can easily hold 5 to 10 books depending on the book length. Audio quality is excellent.
The physical controls are back but the voice annunciation has been kept from the last generation and makes a big difference in finding your book. The face controls are start/stop, volume, forward/backward and fast-forward/fast-backward.
On the top are two buttons. A three position on-button with off, shuffle and sequential tracks settings. The other top voice button announces the current selection with one-click, all available books with click-hold and battery status with double-click.
Audiobooks must be loaded with iTunes which of course is free. Audible books load as usual for all Apple devices. Downloads from eMusic, Barnes & Noble and Borders load with one disc per track. You can of course load MP3-CDs or rip audiobook discs to MP3 and load thru iTunes.
The Shuffle is not as good as Apple’s Nano iPod for audiobooks, but you will save $100.
Until recently Apple has owned audiobook content on the iPhone and iPod Touch. The only way to load content on these devices was through iTunes. There were two unfortunate requirements that followed, making this less than desireable. First you needed a USB connection to iTunes and second you were forced to sync with only one computer. The requirement to sync was especially onerous. It prevented loading audiobooks from any other computer in effect tethering you to probably your home computer.
Audible released an Audible specific app for the iPhone in July that for their site and content allowed downloading any audiobooks from your Audible Library directly to your iPhone/iPod Touch with just a Wi-Fi connection.
Audible upgraded their servers in late July to support higher speed downloads. You can now download an audiobook in just a few minutes with a good Wi-Fi connection. Unfortunately their App automatically downloads the Enhanced Format which is a little over twice as large as the standard Format 4. This of course takes twice as long to download and requires twice as much space on your iPhone/iPod Touch device. Audible is aware of the issue and is looking at a software update to correct it. The download speed between iTunes and the App is nearly the same otherwise. Audible created their own player with features similar to the iPod player for the iPhone/iPod Touch.
The main features offered by the App are:
1) My Library: You can view all of your books in the Audible Library, Refresh if necessary.
This includes a view of your iPod library, see Figure 1.
2) News & Events: Message area for Audible that includes coming soon, support messages etc. Figure 2.
3) Listening Stats: Not very useful. It shows hours listened to, # books in library plus some fun with badges.
4) Settings: Not much here, yet. Needs to include download Format control.
5) The Player: This is an iPod like player with a good set of features, see Figure 3.
Figure 1. Figure 2.
You can now buy a book from Audible on your iPhone/iPod Touch Safari Browser and download it directly with the App. This is especially useful when you are travelling and works well from most Wi-Fi zones.
The App is free and installs easily. The interface is easy to use and has only a few small glitches which should be fixed in the next release. The worst of these is that the player will on occasion simply shut-down with no warning. The audio restarts where you left off when you restart the app. This has occured two to four times on every book we have listened to on the App player.
The App of course also works on the iPad but only has the low resolution iPhone interface and has no iPad high resolution version at this time.