Review of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami (trans. Philip Gabriel)

Posted: December 3, 2014 in general fiction, Review
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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of Pilgrimage

Growing up in suburban Nagoya, Tsukuru Tazaki had four best friends at school: the boys Akamatsu and Oumi, and the girls Shirane and Kurono. Each of the friends’ surnames contained a colour (red, blue, white, black). Only Tsukuru’s name had no colour in it, and he came to think of himself as colourless. But one summer, after he returns from studying in Tokyo, his four friends announce that they no longer wish him to be a part of their group. The announcement drives Tsukuru into a depression and he comes close to killing himself. But time heals to a fashion, and one day after a successful date with his new girlfriend Sara he is presented with a dilemma – face his painful past and find out the truth or face a colourless future without the charming Sara.

Tsukuru must travel back to Nagoya, confront his childhood friends, his and their fears. His journey takes him to Finland, where the final chapters of his personal drama play out. Along the way, we make discoveries of what drove Tsukuru, his career as an architect of train stations, life in Tokyo and his other friendships.

Murakami has written a book that is interesting. He presents a mystery or two; why Tsukuru was dumped by his friends and the death of Shirane, and solves at least one of them. Naturally not everything is solved, but then neither is everything in life – this is not a murder mystery but a life mystery. I approached this book with zero expectation, knowing nothing of the author (and discovered according to the list at the front of the book is quite prolific) and was pleasantly surprised to be turning pages wanting to know what happened next, why Akamatsu, Oumi, Shirane and Kurono threw Tsukuru away, why Kurono was married to a Finn and making poetry outside Helsinki.

Contemporary fiction isn’t dead. Currently it is living in Japan.

Harvill Secker

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve

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