Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
First things first. Murakami is a legend, it’s a mission of mine to read all of his books eventually. With any prolific author there will be highs and lows but his prose is always lovely and worth the journey. Murakami is a legend. He also LOVES boobs. All of his books contain vivid descriptions of breasts and detours describing classical music. He loves these two things and these topics are unavoidable in any of his novels whether I like it or not.
With that out of the way I can tell you that Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is one of Murakami’s lesser works. It does not have the magical realism he is most famous for and the journey that our protagonist is on is, to be honest, minimally engaging.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki was part of a close knit group of friends back in high school. 4 of the 5 of them had names that meant colors. Poor Tazaki was the odd man out. He further became the odd man out when one of the friends tells him that they can no longer hang out with him. He can no longer be a part of the friend group. This is abrupt and without any given reason. Tazaki is heart broken and confused but doesn’t press it.
Years later a girlfriend convinces him to confront the friends and figure out what happened that left him with a hole in his heart. He ventures out to find these friends and the answers that explain what happened even if those answers do not exactly fill him with joy.
I did find myself curious enough to want to know what happened and when I got those answers I definitely wanted to finish the book to see how it panned out. But overall the book was just a bit dull compared to the usual brilliance of Murakami. If you only intend to read a couple of his books, this is not the one to choose.
Additionally, there were two loose threads by the end of the novel that I was upset with. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki had another friend abandon him in college. Similarly abruptly and without any given reason. He mentions this to the same girlfriend and that he would like to know what happened to him as well, but he never does. The book ends after discovering the mystery behind the initial friend group. Maybe he’s just content now?
The other loose end is that at one point earlier in the novel Tazaki hears the story of a man who claims to be able to see the colors that people emit. This is described sort of like an aura. Given the title of the book, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, I assumed this would play a larger part. I am left to wonder if this aura man had anything to do with the single friend’s disappearance but it’s too vaguely alluded to to feel satisfied from this outcome. Honestly, I’d have rather read that story.
Murakami always delivers something original and that always gives him points in my mind. He just set the bar so very high for himself that it’s hard for him to live up to his own hype sometimes.
3/5 colors 🟢🔵🟣
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For more books translated from Japanese to English check out this manga.