Books, Haruki Murakami, Japanese Literature, Reviews

Book Review: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgramage

I finished reading Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage today. I haven’t read a Murakami novel in the while; the last book I read was The Elephant Vanishes (collection of short stories). His newest novel intrigued me, I kept seeing this book being praised a lot and I thought it was going to be amazing as many said it would be, but I thought it was okay.

Plot: Tsukuru Tazaki, a thirty-six year old man, who feels like an “empty vessel” or a “colorless person” because his group of high school friends (Aka, Shiro, Kuro, and Ao) rejected him sixteen years ago. He tries experiencing death to get over them, but deep down, he misses his perfect group of friends. As a result of being isolated from them, he tries to avoid visiting his hometown and would rather live in lonely in Tokyo. His girlfriend, Sara, convinces him to visit all his friends to seek answers to why he was kicked out of the group of friends and heal his wounds.

The group of friends really seemed perfect in the beginning of the novel, but as I kept reading further on, I discovered that the group itself was crumbling since Tsukuru left Nagoya to study engineering in Tokyo. The group itself was not perfect as Tsukuru believed. I really thought it was his lack of personality that lead to the group rejecting him, but boy was I wrong. Instead, it was all due to a lie that Shiro told her group of friends while Tsukuru had no idea what he did to make his group leave him. I was shocked! I did get really mad to know that the other friends did not try contacting him at all. I was really annoyed. The reason why Tsukuru was not told was because he was the “strongest” of the group to survive without them…I did roll my eyes a bit since the protagonist was pretty bland…anyways, I really liked the chapters where Tsukuru met with his old friends to discover the answers to his questions. Kuro’s chapters had to be the best for me.

I really felt that this book could have been shorter. I felt there was too much repetition in the book. I wished that this book had included more chapters about Tsukuru’s high school days. Mini rant: Tsukuru, I get it, you’re a colorless person…thanks for reminding me for the hundredth time. I didn’t mind the weird erotic dreams and the description of his private parts, I looked past that, but I really was annoyed that the book ended with Tsukuru going to sleep…I just wanted to know if he ended up with Sara or not…Well, I guess it’s one of those book that you, the reader, decides if she accepted his proposal or not.

I give this book a 3.5 out of 5. It was an okay book, but enjoyable.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgramage”

  1. I think one of the best things about Murakami’s style of writing are the endings. Fair enough it may not appeal to everyone, but in reality, the ability to have the power to end his novel on a jarring yet powerfully exhilarating finish gives the reader the license to create their own ending. Not so many authors can do that. Also, with regards to repetition; keep in mind that his novels are translated into English; sometimes his true mastery doesn’t shine through.

  2. I think one of the greatest aspects of Murakami’s work is the ability he possesses to finish his novels on such a jarring yet exhilaratingly powerful end. Instead of creating his own ending; which would either satisfy or not satisfy the individual reader, he hands over the license to the readers themselves, giving them the power to end it on their terms. Also beware there may or may not be a sequel to this; following the pattern of Wild Sheep Chase.
    With concern to the repetition, keep in mind that Murakami’s work is translated into English, and so his true mastery may not be entirely reflected.

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