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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage Paperback – May 5, 2015
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“Mesmerizing, immersive, hallucinogenic.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Readers wait for [Murakami’s] work the way past generations lined up at record stores for new albums by the Beatles or Bob Dylan. . . . Reveals another side of Murakami, one not so easy to pin down. . . A book for both the new and experienced reader.” —Patti Smith, The New York Times Book Review
“Hypnotic.” —The Boston Globe
“Brilliant.” —The Miami Herald
“A masterpiece.” —Elle
“Wistful, mysterious, winsome, disturbing, seductive.” —The Atlantic
“Remarkable.” — The Washington Post
“Intoxicating. . . . Full of beauty, strangeness, and color.” —NPR
“[Murakami] is ever alert to minds and hearts, to what it is, precisely, that they feel and see, and to humanity’s abiding and indomitable spirit. . . . A deeply affecting novel, not only for the dark nooks and crannies it explores, but for the magic that seeps into its characters’ subconsciouses, for the lengths to which they will go to protect or damage one another, for the brilliant characterizations it delivers along the way.” —The Washington Post
“More than just a story but rather a meditation. . . . There is a rawness, a vulnerability, to these characters.” —Los Angeles Times
“Tsukuru’s pilgrimage will never end, because he is moving constantly away from his destination, which is his old self. This is a narrow poignancy, but a powerful one, and Murakami is its master. Perhaps that's why he has come to speak not just for his thwarted nation, but for so many of us who love art—since it's only there, alas, in novels such as this one, that we're allowed to live twice.” —Chicago Tribune
“Bold and colorful threads of fiction blur smoothly together to form the muted white of an almost ordinary realism. Like J.M. Coetzee, Murakami smoothly interlaces allegorical meanings with everyday particulars of contemporary social reality. . . . Tsukuru’s situation will resonate with anyone who feels adrift in this age of Google and Facebook.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Colorless Tsukuru spins a weave of . . . vivid images around a great mystery. . . . The story flows along smoothly, wrapping around details like objects in a stream.” —The Boston Globe
“The premise is simple enough, but in the works of Murakami, nothing is simple. . . . A perfect introduction to Murakami’s world, where questions of guilt and motivation abound, and the future is an open question.” —The Miami Herald
“Beautiful, rich with moving images and lush yet exquisitely controlled language. . . . Fans of elegant, intelligent fiction will welcome this book.” —Tampa Bay Times
“Moving. . . . One of Murakami’s most endearing and enduring traits as a writer is an almost reportorial attention to detail, the combined effect of which gives you a complete picture while still feeling a little ethereal.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Shockingly seductive. . . . Murakami has a knack for swift, seamless storytelling. . . . Don’t be surprised if you devour Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage in the course of a night or two. . . . Charming and unexpected.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Satisfying. . . . Murakami can find mystery in the mundane and conjure it in sparse, Raymond Carveresque prose.” —Financial Times
“Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki alights in some mysterious places but doesn’t settle there. . . . [It] is replete with emotionally frank, philosophical discussions. . . . Reflective.” —The Dallas Morning News
“A piercing and surprisingly compact story about friendship and loneliness. . . . Murakami skillfully explores the depths of Tsukuru’s isolation and pain.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Truly captivating . . . Calling Murakami a ‘universally respected author’ or even a ‘paragon of literature’ is no longer apt. The man is a cultural force unto himself. . . . [In Colorless Tsukuru] the staples of his work . . . all come together to form a beautiful whole.” —A.V. Club
“Spare and contained. . . . Quiet, with disturbing depths.” —The Columbus Dispatch
“A testament to the mystery, magic, and mastery of this much-revered Japanese writer’s imaginative powers. Murakami’s moxie is characterized by a brilliant detective-story-like blend of intuition, hard-nosed logic, impeccable pacing, and poetic revelations.” —Elle
About the Author
Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages. The most recent of his many international honors is the Jerusalem Prize, whose previous recipients include J. M. Coetzee, Milan Kundera, and V. S. Naipaul. Translated by Philip Gabriel.
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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki has a compelling mix of the "old" and the "new" Murakami. For the first time since Murakami started to alter his style, the story is told entirely from the perspective of the familiar "Boku" character ... mid-30s, lonely, detached, insecure (in this case, about whether he is "colorless"--this will make sense when you read the book), on an unusual quest to reconcile a past trauma and lost relationships. The book is strikingly free of the "magical realism" present in some of his iconic works such as Wind-Up Bird and Hard-Boiled Wonderland, and tells a much more "realistic" tale more similar in concept to Norwegian Wood, South of the Border, or even his debut novel, Hear the Wind Sing ... but with considerably more maturity and psychological depth, I'd argue. Unlike the "old" Murakami protagonist, however, Tsukuru is not passive ... cool, but not dispassionate. It takes some time and some prodding, but eventually he sets out to discover truths and right wrongs. His name is telling: "tsukuru" means "to make", and what Tsukuru makes is train stations ... places characterized by both order and chaos, where the ebb and flow of humanity is unceasing, full of people going to where they belong and returning to where they were meant to be. Similar to Murakami's more recent works, this tale is told entirely in the 3rd person; unlike his recent works, however, this tale is not told from multiple perspectives. Personally, I found this singular focus on Tsukuru (rather than a split narrative) enhanced the tale and allowed the reader to feel what Tsukuru is feeling and empathize with his quest for understanding and belonging. Although not "magical"/mystical, the tale is still mysterious; I am often vexed by Murakami's tendency for unresolved plot lines, yet in this tale I was satisfied with the ending (although I imagine not everyone will be) ... Tsukuru hangs on a knife's edge, yet is at peace in his own way. While I would've loved to have seen the resolution of the remaining key plot line, as Tsukuru himself notes it is out of his hands ... he has completed his own internal journey, regardless of what happens next.
To me, personally, this felt like the most effortless and natural tale Murakami has told since he started experimenting with his style in Kafka on the Shore. As such, it seems appropriate that in many ways Murakami achieves the most successful version of his new style by returning to his roots. This is the first novel of his in quite some time that I found to be a gripping page turner that I genuinely enjoyed and left me hungry for my next visit to Murakami World rather than nostalgic for past visits. The reaction in Japan to this novel has been decidedly mixed, however, so I will be curious to see what the reaction is in the west. For me at least, for the first time in more than a decade, I had the pleasure of closing a Murakami novel with a smile on my face, moved, thoughtful, and looking forward to seeing where Murakami goes from here. I am reminded of an excellent quote by Ursula Le Guin: "Finally, when we're done with it, we may find - if it's a good novel - that we're a bit different from what we were before we read it, that we have been changed a little, as if by having met a new face, crossed a street we never crossed before. But it's very hard to say just what we learned, how we were changed." I think this statement applies well to Murakami's works ... it is often difficult to articulate why one likes (or dislikes) Murakami's writing as a whole, or specific works in particular ... it is the reason why reading Murakami is a very personal, and very subjective experience--one "feels" Murakami as much as one "thinks" Murakami; what moves one person will turn off another. Personally, I found Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki to be a success: like all Murakami novels that moved me, I feel a bit different from what I was before I read it.
This book is no exception. It begins with Tsukuru being troubled by something bad that has happened to him (very troubled, very troubled). The rest of the story is his evolution away from the idea that this thing simply happened to him. After many years he finally investigates what really happened and realizes that there were other perspectives. It turned out that the main issue wasn't all about him at all; it was really more about someone else who actually suffered more than he did. We all need to better realize that the world does not revolve around us. Things do not simply happen to us, we are part of a larger whole. This book is a great example of that.
The only thing I didn't like about the book was it was too short. When I finished, I thought, "is it done already?" After reading 1Q84, this one seemed like only half a book. I wanted to know more.
I think Tsukuru's conclusion based on why Shima did what she did was probably the correct one. It's a shame that happened, but at least we got some closure. The only closure I wanted that I did NOT receive was where Haida ran off to. Murakami has a habit of making these interesting characters that are insignificant to the plot suddenly disappear. He did it with "Storm Trooper" in Norwegian Wood and he did it again with Haida. What DID happen with Storm Trooper, though? We'll never know!