Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
Written by: Haruki Murakami
Published by: Knopf
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and
His Years of Pilgrimage
by Haruki Murakami
With the advent of social media our past always lingers around us like the smell of cookies that were baked days ago. Now we can see what our third-grade classmate had for lunch or what political belief they zealously follow. But maybe we are supposed to allow the past and the people of yesterday fade from our lives. Part of growing up is letting go of all the things that are no longer necessary to us. But we shouldn’t have our past violently severed from us.
Tsukuru Tazaki is closing in on middle-age and is about to enter a serious relationship. He explains a trauma of his past and quickly learns that he must deal with it in order to move on.
But for a man who hasn’t ever left Japan, he is now finding that he may have to travel far and wide, both outside of the country and deep inside his own mind, to get the answers he is looking for. But uncovering one mystery leads to another. All the while Tsukuru is having vivid dreams. Dreams that are powerful and reaching out into his life, to where he doesn’t know where the dream stops and reality starts. And his dreams may be going after those that made him suffer.
The brilliance of this book is the simplicity of the plot. Giving away anymore than the above would just ruin it. Murakami was on his A-game as he gave us a story about the reader as much as it is about the characters. The book follows Murakami’s general tale of alienation that runs through all of his books, but with the surreal and fantastic hinted at in the background. The darkness of the novel isn’t in the forefront like his previous works, but always just around the corner, under the floor boards, and just off set.
If I had any criticisms it would be that the novel felt like it was part of something else, something larger. It was almost as if Murakami was eluding to something unseen. There were a few times that elements were brought up as though they would be addressed later but them never seemed to materialize into anything. Polydactylism seems to be a metaphor for an unseen force outside the group of five that represented fingers on a hand but after a few mentions of it, the subject is dropped. Then again maybe it is something that I didn’t pick up on the first read through and need another read to grasp it better.
If you are a fan of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, as most people are, or a fan of Kafka on the Shore, you’ll find Colorless Tsukuru a bit different. It is much more straightforward and much less dense than 1Q84. That’s not to say it won’t develop a fan following like the other books. In its first week alone in Japan, the novel went through eight printings and sold over a million copies. Colorless isn’t vintage Murakami, it is something new, but still something that will leave a deep impression on the reader.
Reviewed by Adam Armstrong
SHOP – Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki
and His Years of Pilgrimage: A novel