It’s no secret by now that I’m an avid fan of Haruki Murakami. Ever since I picked up ‘Norwegian Wood’ on a whim, I’ve been completely enchanted by his contemporary approach to tale-telling. His writing technique deftly weaves Japanese heritage, culture and history together with an undoubtedly fantasy lead and it’s certainly my favourite way to unwind and word-travel.
‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’ was hot on my list of anticipated books last year. I eagerly picked it up in the summer and even waysided packing to begin reading it – yet it took me around 4 months to complete reading it. Oops. I’m one of those readers who is either completely obsessed or loses interest instantly so, actually, I was pleasantly surprised when I picked this back up, went from page 26 back to the first chapter and managed to read it properly. (PS. Many spoilers ahead because I’m not great at book reviews.)
The story opens with a quiet, Sunday morning atmosphere – calm, serene and unwinding a tale of precision-led moments. A group of five friends, a school grounds setting, a sleepy Japanese neighbourhood. As with many Murakami tomes, education centres the book and as Tsukuru – the central character – moves to University, the group of friends kicks him out. In fact, the ‘Sunday morning’ vibes I got from the start continued to the very end. I think, for me, this novel felt a little too nonsensical and realist-focused for me. And there was no definitive ending! Which is my biggest pet peeve in books, I like knowing that there’s something at the end to gain, ponder or explore.
Unfortunately this is my least favourite Murakami novel to date. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, the storyline was emotive and touching but lacked the wonder, adventure and heightened reality that I’m so accustomed to. Tsukuru was written perfectly as a character but ironically he himself lacked character. I guess that’s the concept at the heart of this one though – feeling that you lack colour and subsequently purpose. Of course I’ll still return to Murakami, in fact I’m reading ‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle’ at the moment and I intensely like that so far!