Title: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
Author: Haruki Murakami
Release Date: August 12, 2014
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5
When Tsukuru Tazaki was a young man, he fell in with a group of four friends, and they were absolutely inseparable. Tsukuru knew that they would be his lifelong companions. But Tsukuru alone leaves their hometown for college, and upon returning, he’s told that his friends never want to see him or have any communication with him again. Devastated, Tsukuru tries to move on, but years later, he decides he must know what really happened and why his friends turned their backs on him.
A riveting story that’s just as much about a mystery as it is the wonderfully written main character, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is an approachable novel that should satisfy both Murakami’s hardcore fans and those new to his work.
I’ve never read anything by Murakami, but he’s always been near the top of my list. After all, he’s one of the premier writers of our time, and I’ve always felt a little like a book critic imposter by not having read his works. When I heard he had a new book coming out, I decided to change that, picking it up as soon as I could get my hands on a copy of this great novel.
I was immediately drawn into Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. Murakami (and his translator, Philip Gabriel) uses a crisp and clear writing style. It’s inviting and easy to read, making me want to sink into the story. It’s beautifully written; readers who haven’t enjoyed Murakami’s writing style will surely appreciate the chance with this novel.
Tsukuru Tazaki is a great main character, smart but insecure. He never had a lot of faith in himself, but finding a tight-knit group of friends certainly helped him. When they completely rejected him with no explanation, it shook the foundations of his world. He’s never really recovered from that horrible experience, and now that he’s trying to have a relationship with a woman years later, both he and she realize he’s still stuck in that moment, that he’s defined not by the sum of his life experience but by that moment of rejection. And so, Tsukuru must find closure to be able to move forward with his life.
At the beginning of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, it was the mystery that kept me hooked on the novel. Why did these friends reject Tsukuru? What mysterious secret did they possess? But as the novel progressed, I found that the answers mattered less, that they weren’t the real reason I was reading anymore. I became so invested in Tsukuru, so badly wanted him to find his answers and become whole again, that the reasoning behind the rejection just became unimportant. It’s a testament to how great of a writer Murakami is and how well he writes his characters. He used a hook to draw me in and then made me fall in love with his characters, such that the hook didn’t really matter anymore. The reason I was reading changed, as I became more and more invested in Tsukuru. It was the journey, rather than the destination, that became supreme.
I absolutely loved my first experience reading Murakami and will definitely be going back and reading his other books I’ve heard so many great things about. I loved getting to know his characters and being along for the ride with this book. If you have been intimidated by Murakami, then Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is a great place to start; it’s accessible and engaging, and will absolutely keep you riveted from beginning to end.