This is my review of Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami.
I’m a big fan of Murakami’s. I’ve read a few of his books, and irrespective of whether or not I find the story itself appealing (I’m looking at you, Kafka on the Shore), his prose never fails to carry me to a peaceful place. His books ought to be read on a Sunday afternoon on the balcony, as opposed to a rush hour commute. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, his non-fiction book (with a self-explanatory title), reads as though a particularly down-to-earth middle-aged man is sitting next to you on the bus and sharing a story.
The translation of this particular book was released fairly recently- August 2014- but I only got my hands on a copy this month. And I’m glad, it was definitely worth a read.
Tsukuru Tazaki is a man in his early thirties who works in railway construction. He is ridiculously happy with his career, but there’s a hole in his life. He’s a loner, and not by choice. When he was in high school, he had a group of four close friends. Each one of them has a colour in their name, except Tsukuru- hence the ‘colourless’ label. They did everything together… until he moved out of his hometown for university. He visited often, but he was suddenly shunned by the entire group for no apparent reason. This caused him to spiral into a depression (Murakami’s now-familiar lonely college man stereotype now fits) that changed him permanently.
Now he’s dating a sophisticated, beautiful woman, but she finds the whole backstory of his high school friends very strange. She believes that the abandonment he experienced in his youth is affecting all his relationships even a decade later. Some Google-fu, and she has tracked down the four of them. Tsukuru sets off on a trip to visit all of them and find out what went wrong.
The story takes a few turns at this point, which is why I liked it so much. Murakami’s books are generally not burdened with much of a plot, and having an actual storyline really made this book shine. The ending is satisfyingly vague- he drops just enough hints for you to figure out what’s up, without making anything explicit.
4.5/5 from me. Read this if you’re a fan of laid back writing styles and psychological thrillers.