Review: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

 

Title:  Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Author: Haruki Murakami

Published: Harvill Secker: Random House August 2014

Status: Read from August 21 to 22, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Haruki Murakami in a Japanese author best known in western culture for the 2011 success of his epic dystopian novel,1Q84. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is his highly anticipated newest title.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the story of a man who has never really recovered from being inexplicably exiled by a group of close friends he met in high school. Drifting through his life, engineer Tsukuru is now in his mid thirties, single and largely friendless, until he meets a woman who encourages him to confront his painful past.

Throughout Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Murukami explores the themes of identity, friendship, alienation and mental health. Tsukuru views himself as having; “…no personality, no defined color. [With] nothing to offer to others…like an empty vessel”, and as such feels disconnected from other people and destined to be alone. This feeling can be traced back to the brutal abandonment of his friends and to redefine himself Tsukuru must resolve the lingering hurts and resentments.

I thought the symbolism in the novel was fairly heavy handed and the dream slips didn’t always make sense to me. I didn’t find the writing particularly special though I found it more accessible and grounded than I was expecting.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, not having read Murakami previously though I have read plenty of opinions about several of his earlier works, but I’m pretty sure this wasn’t quite it. Essentially this seems to me to be lad lit (think Nick Hornby), perhaps given gravitas primarily because the protagonist, and the author, is Japanese. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the story of Tsukuru’s journey to make peace with his past and redefine his sense of self, but I was largely underwhelmed by the whole thing.

 

Available to purchase from

Random House Au Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. diane
    Aug 25, 2014 @ 09:39:16

    Haven’t read iQ84, but have read a few of his other books. I liked this one, and honestly think it was more my style. I thought the audio was awesome.

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  2. roadmancebooks
    Aug 25, 2014 @ 11:00:32

    I was planning to read this week… hmmm… I’ll rethink it.
    I adored Norwegian Wood and some of his other earlier books. But I’ve found a few of his books since then have been heavy handed and I wonder if that’s due to translation.
    I’ve read two versions of Norwegian Wood—the first while I lived in Japan. It was translated by Alfred Birnbaum, who did many of Murakami’s earlier books and was published by Kodansha, the big Japanese publisher.
    When it was published internationally it was translated by someone else, and in my opinion nowhere near as good. The Alfred Birnbaum translations are best. Murakami is apparently difficult to translate, because he himself is a translator so even though he writes in Japanese, apparently sets up the language for translation.
    I wish they’d stick to Birnbaum for all his books.

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