Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki & His Years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami

READ FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Jo

A young man attempts to discover why his friends have abandoned him

❝ The protagonist of this book is Tsukuru Tazaki, a Japanese man in his 30s who designs railroad stations.

He recalls his younger years, where at high school he had four best friends whose names all include a colour: red, blue, white, black. Tsukuru’s name contained no reference to colour, and the joking about it caused him to consider himself blank, isolated and boring: colourless.

Suddenly, without explanation, his four friends abandon him swearing never to speak to him again. Though troubled and vexed by this, he never seeks to find out why this happened. For 16 years he simply wonders.

Now, in the present, he goes on a mission to find out why, revisiting his lost friends and asking them for their accounts of the abandonment. His quest for the answers takes him as far as Finland where one of the friends now lives.

Let’s say you are an empty vessel. So what? What’s wrong with that?” Eri said. “You’re still a wonderful, attractive vessel. And really, does anybody know who they are? So why not be a completely beautiful vessel? The kind people feel good about, the kind people want to entrust with precious belongings.

❝Murakami often has a theme of mystic realism and characters who have their opposites. At this bookclub meet we discussed these themes and worked out who each character’s complimentary opposite was. It was after this discussion that we realised Tsukuru had much more to him than meets the eye. He wasn’t a boring, straight forward person at all. Murakami’s prose always seems simple to me and flows so well, which is just as well as there is so much else going on if you know to look for it. Not having all the answers made the story all the more interesting as the reader is left to ponder and work out likely scenarios for themselves. – Jo

❝ I really enjoyed the relaxed and easy flow this novel brings and as in usual Murakami style it wasn’t full of flowery and elaborate literature. The plot was not at all complex to follow but was intriguing and quite puzzling at times. Murakami had us pondering what happened with his friend group and why they would cast him out? Were his dreams really dreams or a blur with reality? Colorless Tsukuru is a clever novel that has many hidden layers. A great novel to discuss with your bookie friends. – Jodie

❝ I loved the discussions we had around this book and the different theories and interpretations about what the hell actually happened. The feeling of not quite knowing wasn’t frustrating, it was really interesting to think about the author’s possible reasonings. There were aspects of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgramage that have not aged well. We are not ready to cancel you just yet Haruki, but you are sailing close to the wind mate. – Suzy

Colorless Tsukuru has many of Murakami’s hallmarks yet wasn’t as out there as some of his others. Yes actions in dreams seem to occur in real life, but no there are no talking cats or portals to other worlds. Yes the characters had intense relationships and over-shared their emotions, but a sense of mystery remained. The links between the names of colour provided a layer of consideration that didn’t overwhelm the narrative. The primary mystery was solved but this raised more questions that had us discussing possibilities for hours. For me this is a perfect kind of Murakami novel with the right level of mystique, craziness and likeable characters. I totally loved it. – Rachel

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Published 2014
Vintage
308 pages

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