Audiobook release day: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami; and “Neil Gaiman Presents…”

Billed (perhaps justifiably) as “The Most Anticipated Novel of the Year”1Q84 by Haruki Murakami has finally arrived. Translated by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel, narrated by Mark BoyettMarc Vietor, and Allison Hiroto, and out from Audible, Inc.:

The book has been subject to quite a flurry of interviews, reviews, and other oddities. Oddities? Yes. TIME magazine’s “Cat Power” article, which rates Murakami’s books on their cat content, would apply. But more typical profiles and reviews have abounded as well, from the NY Times’s “The Fierce Imagination of Haruki Murakami” to Vanity Fair, Salon.com, and NPR, to being Amazon.com’s choice as its Spotlight Selection in its October Books of the Month. Heck, even the cover design has its own story

In a nutshell, Audible.com describes it as: “Haruki Murakami takes us back to 1984. This time, instead of London, we’re in dystopian Tokyo, where the life of an impressionable young woman, Aomame, intertwines with an aspiring writer named Tengo. Mysterious, romantic, fantastical, this is Murakami’s masterpiece.”

While an introduction seems a bit absurd: Murakami is the author of (among others) Kafka on the ShoreThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. If there’s not quite enough of a fix available for you, Audible.com has even been offering a Free Short Story: The Elephant Vanishes.

ALSO OUT TODAY:

Another big announcement today is the launch of new audiobook imprint Neil Gaiman Presents. With an excellent and varied crop of selections, some cast via Audible’s Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), Gaiman goes a step further than the more “informally” presented productions of Fritz Lieber’s Fffrd stories to create a new brand, with:

  • The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break: A Novel By Steven Sherrill Narrated by Holter Graham — 2000 novel: n Neil’s words: ”In Steve Sherrill’s fiction, the Minotaur is alive and relatively well, working as a short-order cook at a greasy spoon in North Carolina called Grub’s Rib. The novel covers two weeks in M’s life, from his home at the Lucky-U trailer park – where he repairs cars in his spare time – and back to Grub’s Rib, where M has a crush on an epileptic waitress named Kelly. After we heard Holter Graham’s audition for the book, Steve had this to say: ‘Holter’s handling of the Minotaur’s grunt was PERFECT. Exactly what I heard in my head.’”
  • The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll Narrated by Edoardo Ballerini — 1980 novel: In Neil’s words: ”I chose The Land of Laughs because I love Jonathan Carroll’s books and want to bring them to as wide an audience as possible. In this book, we learn about the fragile balance for some people between fiction and reality, and the dangers of retreating into a beloved book. I suspected the character of Thomas Abbey would be both a challenge and an opportunity for the right narrator. Edoardo Ballerini conveys a certain wistfulness and vulnerability underneath Abbey’s grumpiness. He is a perfect guide for this journey.”
  • Pavane by Keith Roberts Narrated by Steven Crossley — 1968 novel: In Neil’s words: ”There’s a general consensus that Pavane is one of the great alternate history novels. I read one story from Pavane when I was nine, in an English science fiction monthly magazine and it scarred me. It was the first time a short story made me cry. It was Keith Roberts’ masterpiece: profound and still remarkable. I love the way the narrator, Steven Crossley, subtly but definitely distinguishes each storyteller from the others, so that the unified whole really is more than the sum of its parts.”
  • Light by M. John Harrison Narrated by Julian Elfer — 2002 novel about which I’ve heard quite a lot of great things: In Neil’s words: ”Light indeed shines through the three braided plot strands. In the audiobook, the strands are united by the talent of the narrator, Julian Elfer. Elfer’s energy and attention to small moments illuminate the entire work. Part of the delight of a novel like this, for science fiction fans, or just for people who like good books, is watching the department of science fiction known as Space Opera be polished up, dusted off, and reinvented for the future. It’s a dark book, but there’s a lot of light in here too. Enjoy.”

Just: Wow. Light and Pavane are impressive openings for Gaiman, and anyone who can get more great, imaginative books into audio gets a thumbs up from me. Well done and good luck, Mr. Gaiman. And if you want some suggestions…

MISSING IN ACTION:

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