Published by Vintage in 2014
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, is a book about a man called Tsukuru and how he has to deal with painful memories. In his teenage years he had four friends with names that corresponded to colours. The two boys were called Akamatsu (red pine) and Oumi (blue sea). The two girls were called Shirane (white root) and Kurono (black field). Tsukuru Tazaki’s name corresponded to no colour, and he suffered a mental collapse with he was cut off from his friends. However, by his late thirties Tsukura finds a woman he truly loves called Sara and she suggests that Tsukuru should find out what really caused he friends to cut him off.
This novel is a great read and liked the way that the whole story is told from Tsukuru’s perspective. One really gets to know the main character really well in a book where a lot of the story is about understanding the past and how his mental state has involved over time. Tsukuru is an introverted man in his late thirties who prefers to keep to himself and is able to conceal his mental scars by swimming, reading books and designing train stations.
Tsukuru’s specific interest in train stations is an important theme in this book as it describes Tsukuru as an independent person who was able to create a career based around his favourite interest. I particularly liked the way Murakami shows that other people do not judge people negatively as we all do to ourselves. Tsukuru describes himself as an empty vessel who contributed nothing to his group of friends, yet Sara points out Tsukuru’s good qualities, like how he is polite and kind.
Many people in modern life experience confidence issues and Murakami’s use of the world ‘Colorless’ in the title describes how people with low self-esteem think of themselves. This novel in a way is about re-visiting the past so one can move on and enjoy the present moment.
My main criticisms of this book are based on length and unanswered questions. Compared to other Murakami books, this one is quite short. The story is quite complex still, but the book is only about looking back to the past, which is not bad but it would have been interesting to read more about the early days of Tsukuru’s time working as an engineer and more detail on how he met Sara.
The unanswered questions relate to an unexplained death to one of Tsukuru’s friends, as the reader I have to interpret it as either suicide or murder but the reason behind the death is not clarified. Like Kafka on The Shore, Murakami leaves some plot points unresolved so readers can interpret elements of the story differently each time it is read.
To summarise, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage was a fascinating read about a shy introverted man revisiting his past so he can move on. The book is well written and is fully focused on telling the story from a single person’s perspective. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy reading books that are open to multiple interpretations and really get you thinking about your own life.
Rating: 5/5 Stars