Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami
The first news of a new book emerging from the talented mind of Haruki Murakami, is always a cause for excitement here. It is though an excitement that has to be tempered with patience. Initially the book will, logically enough, be released in his native Japan. Soon we will be reading of extraordinary queues at launch events, huge sales figures and tentative news of an English translation. Then finally, the day arrives and the book reaches our shores.
“Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki” as we shall call it here, has recently completed its arduous journey. I was able to complete the trek by taking the short walk to the lovely Durdham Down Bookshop to pick up my copy and guiding it home. The book is beautifully presented, although the addition of a collection of stickers relating to scenes from the book is an odd touch. However if you have always wanted small a sticker of a tie in a box, well wait no longer!
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki follows a more conventional narrative structure than some of Murakami’s work. The book sets it focus on a protagonist who appears ready to emerge from decades of semi isolation and self-doubt. Before doing so though, he is prompted to confront a major incident in his past.
One of the things I love about Murakami in his ability to tell emotional stories in a wonderfully understated, almost deadpan way. The narrative moves simply and logically, the sparseness of the prose allowing us to easily identify with Tsukuru Tazaki. We start to understand why he allowed events to overtake him as his restraint and the internalisation of his problems, lead him to a sad and potentially desperate situation. As is often the way, Murakami uses descriptions of music to increase our understanding of the players in the story. This time Le Mal Du Pays, a reflective solo piano piece by Franz Liszt is our entry point into the mind of Tsukuru Tazaki.
As is often the way with the books of Murakami, we spend a lot of time within the head of the protagonist. Tsukuru Tazaki thoughts beautifully relay feelings regarding a lack of self-worth and confidence that I’m sure many of us can relate to. That’s not to say that this is a morbid or miserable book, far from it in fact. Murakmi has provided another engrossing, intriguing story. How long until the next one lands?