01 September 2015

Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami, Tokyo, 2013

Like all of the books by Murakimi that I have read so far, Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is captivating and intellectually stimulating. It is, however, somewhat different to, for example, IQ84 or Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. In both of these books, the imaginative or fantasy element is much stronger, while in Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage a small sliver of fantasy is book-ended between a large amount of reality.

In high school, Tsukuru Tazaki belongs to a close group of five friends; they do everything together, and, if any of the five were to make a guess about the future, he or she would doubtlessly assume that the five of them would always remain together. But then something happens. Tsukuru (whose name means colourless) is banished from the group without any explanation. He is devastated and depressed and contemplates suicide. Years later he meets Sara, who is astute enough to realize that Tsukuru must find out what happened all those years ago – until he can put the past behind him, he is unable to move on.

The book, beautifully written, follows Tsukuru as he peels back the layers of the past and discovers why he was cut off from the group. The process is not without pain and even regret, but, by the end, Tsukuru is able to move away from the idea of colourless to the other meaning of his name: to build.

Anyone who loves Murakami will love Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.
Photo of Haruki Murakami from