Thursday 4 September 2014

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

I finished Tsukuru a week ago but have struggled to write my review. I'm not sure what I have to say or how to say it.

Tsukuru is a much quieter story than 1Q84. It's also a lot shorter! The editing and translation felt more succinct; either that, or I'm getting used to Murakami's style.

Loneliness, depression, loss & insecurity are explored as Tsukuru comes to terms with who he is, his past and what this means for his future.

This is all very familiar territory for Murakami & it would seem that his fans, also, cannot get enough of these themes.

I think I'm one of those fans.

Tsukuru's story has got under my skin. The visions of loneliness have struck a chord, the beautiful Liszt music has become a favourite.

I'm always fascinated by stories that explore how we see ourselves because it is often vastly different to how others experience us. Part of Tsukuru's pilgrimage is coming to terms with these two different view of himself. But like real life, there are no clear revelations, no startling turning points & no significant overnight changes in behaviour or attitude.

At the end Tsukuru has more understanding and self-awareness, but he is still the same Tsukuru struggling with self-doubt, loneliness & identity.

I will be reading more Murakami; I'm very curious to see what came before.
What is Murakami's personal pilgrimage with loneliness, depression, loss & belonging? Will he ever work it out? And do we even want him to?

This post is part of Dolce Bellezza's Japanese Reading Challenge & Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday 'P' (is for Pilgrimage) post.
For my previous discussion on the cover and music click here.


  1. I have always held that Murakami himself has suffered as his characters do, with issues of loneliness and sorrow over a loss of some kind. Other readers disagree with me, but I see no other explanation for his eloquence and the grief expressed so well on novels such as this one, and Norwegian Wood. Even Hear The Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973 have the death of a young girl which so wounds the hero. Make of it what you will...

    This is indeed a beautiful book.

    1. I have yet to delve into Murakami's bio online, or read his running book (which I believe is non-fiction/memoir) so I'd be curious to learn what you've picked up about him along the way.

  2. Anonymous4/9/14

    yes indeed excellent! I love him very much as well

    1. Which is your favourite Murakami to date?

      I've only read the 2 & I'd have to say that 1Q84 was my favourite so far. I loved the magical realism/parallel universe ride in 1Q84 - esp the first two books of the trilogy. (The third book with the weird goats and little people was magic realism gone too far for me!)

  3. You have convinced me that I very much want to read Murakami. I really need to read more Japanese literature in general and this seems a really good place to start.

    1. Colorless Tsukuru is a good place to start with Murakami - it gives you a sense of his style without being too long or surreal (although thanks to 1Q84, I kept expecting to go off on a surreal/magic realism tangent every time Tsukuru had a dream or mentioned the bad elves who lived in the Scandinavian forest!)

  4. Thank you for your comment on my post. I have never heard of the author Murakami, but your book review tells me that Colorless Tsukuru would be a good place to start!

  5. Sounds like an interesting read. I like the fact that he emerges wiser but not necessarily able to put his wisdom into action. That seems more real to me.


  6. Anonymous9/9/14

    Interesting review with an introduction to the themes that Murakami deals with. This writer is one I would not choose. He is in the same categorie as Hesse and Rushdie. They all scare me. Yet Murakami is often seen on reader's 'Bucket List' of books! I'm curious if you approaced this book with trepidation first.

    1. No trepidation; just excitement. Colorless would be a good one yo start with. It's a straight narrative with no funny business! A gentler story that is more interior pilgrimage than outer journeys.


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