A ghostwriter is once more in the spotlight in Haruki Murakami’s much publicised new novel, 1Q84.
Tengo is commissioned by a maverick publisher to “re-write” a compelling piece of prose written by an equally compelling teenage girl, leading him into the sort of adventure that tempted me to become a ghostwriter in the first place. (I haven’t finished reading it yet so it’s quite possible a fate will befall him which will make me reconsider my position there).
The chapters following Tengo’s adventure alternate with those following Aomame, an icy, glamorous, professional assassin. The stories of these two protagonists become increasingly entwined and there are, as you would expect from Mr Murakami, enough subtexts to feed the minds of several million ravenous readers.
I know I’m biased to an unreasonable degree, but I just love the idea of a ghostwriter being used alongside an assassin as a device to unravel plots and characters and trains of thought – just as Robert Harris did with his very different ghostwriter in The Ghost, (his protagonist ghosted non-fiction rather than fiction). Unravelling plots, characters and trains of thought is, after all, exactly what we are hired to do in the real world.