I am a huge Murakami fan.
I started with Norwegian Wood and that book just gripped my soul. It literally had me quoting passages from the book for weeks. I became so attached to the characters, I embraced their stories in my sleep. Since then, I have decided that I will read each and every Murakami book there is. It’s one of those literary goals that I intend to accomplish in this lifetime.
After Norwegian Wood, I started reading some of his books including South of the border, West of the Sun, After Dark, and What I talk about when I talk about running. All of them are stunning pieces of literature. Their stories are gripping, painful, short, and beautiful. They go beyond the illusion of perspective and challenge readers to see beyond the realms of one reality.
When Colorles Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of Pilgrimage came out, I was just as eager to read it as any Murakami fangirl would. After all, what matters is it’s written by Murakami-san. That alone is enough proof that the book will be an interesting read.
And interesting it was.
PLOT & NARRATIVE
Initially, the plot seemed uninteresting. It doesn’t seem like Murakami came up with a very novel idea because, after all, this book is about another young man going through an existential crisis after his circle of friends abandoned him from their high school group.
Tsukuru Tazaki struggles with the questions on why he was left behind and abandoned, and the book basically delves into his journey to find the answers.
My initial reaction to the plot wasn’t very good. It didn’t seem very exciting. How many books and films do we have that has rehashed this story line over and over again?
But, I was mistaken. The book wasn’t just about Tsukuru Tazaki’s identity crisis and his relationship with his best friends. The book was about demystifying the thoughts that plague and control us. It’s about going beyond what you think you can do.
The book is deeper, more intimate, and more raw. I felt, all throughout the book that Tsukuru is growing and he has these struggles with existence and with his psyche. He’s essentially fighting against himself – trying to make sense of both his perceived and his constructed realities.
Murakami has a way of playing with words that makes his character’s emotions as bare and as relatable to his readers as possible, regardless of how different or unrelated they are to his protagonist’s introverted personalities. The book just sucks you into another dimension and you voluntarily swim through its waters, never intending to stray away from the current. When you do get off the waves, you’re left panting for breath.
There’s always something to be said about Murakami’s characters. They are all insightful and intelligent. They brood over life and love and loss. They’re perpetually deep and daft – their thoughts always engaged in something deeper (almost metaphysical), that they cannot immediately process the situation ahead of them. This moodiness and silent introversion is a recurring theme among his male protagonists that I can’t help but think that Murakami may be projecting more of himself through his characters than he’d intentionally let on.
Unfortunately, unlike Toru Watanabe in Norwegian Wood, Tsukuru Tazaki is more daft and broody – which is a bit unusual considering that Toru Watanabe actually had to endure actual loss and death while Tsukuru Tazaki only had to deal with friends leaving him. In some ways, I can’t help but worry about Tsukuru Tazaki’s emotional state because he’s so emotionally broken & vulnerable . He might end up doing something wrong and might eventually get closed away from his real life.
Tsukuru Tazaki is too broody and emotionally dependent on other people’s opinions for my liking. Then again, I truly appreciate his thoughts. He has a wonderfully perceptive mind, but he spirals into depression too easily and I feel like his misery also gets through to me, drowning me along with him. Otherwise, he’s a wonderful narrator.
My favorite character is Kuro (Eri). Just like Midori, she’s honest and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She’s a strong woman who knows what she wants and what she has to do in her life. Best of all, she has the courage to tell the person she likes how much she likes him. I like how Murakami compared her to Shiro. Shiro was more gentle, timid and shy, while Kuro was frank, outgoing, and sarcastic. It’s lovely how she’s grown up to be such a refined woman and how her life has turned out exactly the way it did. She’s easily one of my favorites in the book. In fact, just like Midori, I can empathize with her much easily than I could with Shiro or Naoko (Norwegian Wood).
Overall, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki is a great read. It’s inevitable to compare it to Norwegian Wood because the themes are very, very similar. As such, in comparison to Norwegian Wood, the novel isn’t as great or as remarkable. That doesn’t mean it is any less a good book. It is, in fact, quite captivating. Anyone who is a fan of good literature should take a moment to read this book.
Best of all, I absolutely love the ending. It was perfect and just the way I think is appropriate to end the story.