Stories within stories: A study of narrative embedding in Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84

Wing Yin Virginia YEUNG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article analyzes Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 from the perspective of narrative embedding. Drawing on narrative theories of Todorov, Genette, Rimmon-Kenan, Nelles, and others, it examines how the author has manipulated embedding to strengthen his themes and to create a complex novel world. The discussion focuses on two types of embedding repeatedly used in the novel: dream narrative and literary references. It argues that embedding as a narrative strategy has an inherently paradoxical nature: embedded stories advance the action in the story on one hand and retard its development on the other; they enrich the main story and yet at the same time point at a lack of self-sufficiency. This article contemplates embedding in 1Q84 in relation to the metafictional characteristics in Murakami’s works. In dedicating itself to the subordinate structures in a novel, this article aims to show that non-core, secondary descriptions and stories are essential parts that shore up a novel’s world. Copyright © 2016 Taylor & Francis, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-436
JournalCritique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction
Issue number4
Early online dateNov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017


Theory of Narrative
Narrative Strategies
Gerard Genette


Yeung, V. (2017). Stories within stories: A study of narrative embedding in Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, 58(4), 426-436. doi: 10.1080/00111619.2016.1242474


  • Haruki Murakami
  • 1Q84
  • Narrative embedding
  • Narrative theory
  • Dream narrative
  • Literary references