My Thoughts About Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (Book Review #44)

Can I just say first that the hardbound edition of this book has one of the coolest dust jacket ever! The beautiful book cover was designed by Chip Kidd which shows a Japanese subway system map with windows showing four colors. And what’s inside also lived up to the beauty of it’s cover as I was again enthralled by Murakami’s writing.

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“You can hide memories, but you can’t erase the history that produced them.”
― Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

The book, translated by Philip Gabriel, follows the story of Tsukuru Tazaki, who grew up becoming a loner as it seems like no one wants to stay long in his life. He spends his time at train stations watching the flow of people going in and out of the trains. He had this fascination with trains that when he entered college in Tokyo he took an engineering course and made creating train stations as his major. And that eventually became his work living up to his name, Tsukuru, which means “to build”.

Tsukuru has this history with his friends that he’s been puzzled about for years. Four of his close high school friends that he grew up with in Nagoya one day mysteriously decided to remove him of their circle in an instant and never to speak to him again without him knowing the reason why. What made it harder for Tsukuru was the fact that he has no idea why he was left like a barrel in an open sea without any clues as to why they did that to him. He believed that he might have done something wrong to them but he can’t be sure of that either because he can’t remember doing any thing of that sort to them. When Tsukuru was abandoned by his friend he became restless and began thinking of ending his life because he could no longer contain the gravity of what is happening to his fate and making it hard for him to mend the relationship with his past.

“As we go through life we gradually discover who we are, but the more we discover, the more we lose ourselves.”
― Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage takes place decades after this rejection. The plot begins when Tsukuru (who’s then 36 yrs old) meet Sarah whom he shared intimate moments with. Sarah set the pace of the plot by setting the terms of their love affair. They both like each other but Sarah feels that Tsukuru is holding back and she believes that this is caused by Tsukuru having emotional disabilities that is, she believes, caused by his past particularly when his friends left him. She believes that deep inside, Tsukuru is yearning to also get an answer why his friends left her without any reason. By the urge of Sarah, we follow as Tsukuru takes his journey to know the truth why the four people he cared about the most could have cut him so ruthlessly.

The “colorless” part of the tile pertains to Tsukuru’s name not being a color name compared to his four friends 2 boys and 2 girls. All their last names cites actual colors – the two boys, Oumi (blue sea) and Akamatsu (red pine); the two girls, Shirane (white root) and Kurono (black field). Their circle refer to each other by their nicknames: Aka (red), Ao (blue), Shiro (white), and Kuro (black). And Tsukuru is just Tsukuru. Tsukuru feels like he’s ordinary compared to his friends.

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“Still, being able to feel pain was good, he thought. It’s when you can’t even feel pain anymore that you’re in real trouble.”
― Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Again, as with all the books that I’ve read from Murakami, I was again fascinated by how he took me on a journey with Tsukuru as he went searching for answers. How he not only searched for the answers to his questions but also to questions about his identity and who he truly is. Murakami writes beautifully that what ever I read from him it’s like I’m being taken to this other world where I fee like I ‘m one with the characters in her story.

As with other books by the author, the book talks about stories of life and death. I like the author’s approach in discussing those topics in a way that the readers will feel miserable but instead, as for me, it made me more appreciate the life that I have. Yes, this book is like me going on a pilgrimage about finding more about my self.

In the story, Tsukuru found out the reasons of his friends and instead of questioning further he realized that if those things never happened, he won’t be the same person as he is now. Sometimes in life, it’s not always bad to go back and stitch the wounds that needs mending. He accepted the fact that what happened to him was unfair but he realized that acceptance is the key for all of them to move on. Despite his name not being associated to any colors, the life he had after his friends left him made his life colorful if not more than colorful.

“No matter how honestly you open up to someone, there are still things you cannot reveal.”
― Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Like a usual Murakami ending, the conclusion was satisfactory and a little bit of mystery remains. Tsukuru’s character got a found closure to be able to move forward with his life. While reading the book I realized the sometimes in life, it no longer matters wherever your destination is but rather the journey you had. Tsukuru got the answers he’s been longing to get but what he treasured most was the ride he had in getting those answers and those things, I believe, made his journey worthwhile. There are a lot of questions left unanswered and it won’t be a shock to know that there will be a companion novel to it soon.

Murakami again proved to me that he’s a seamless storyteller with a clear writing style. This book reminded me of the reason why I love reading his works. It transports you to a new dimension making you feel like you’re one of the characters. He touches the subconscious of the readers discussing topics about life and death with depth and vigor. It’s not the usual magical realism Murakami is known for but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. It’s emotionally engrossing and overwhelming. Philip Gabriel’s translation also gave the book an easy to read, simple and clear voice. The message was successfully sent across.

“Never let fear and stupid pride make you lose someone who’s precious to you.”
― Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

This is a book about the realities of being human. The books talks about of our past with our present and the importance of dealing with our past in order to be able to live the best of what’s present. Friendship. Love. Heartbreaks. A must read.

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5 stars out of 5.

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10 thoughts on “My Thoughts About Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (Book Review #44)

  1. I agree with you. This book has a beautiful jacket cover. As for the story, it’s very absorbing and made me really want to discover what really happened all those years ago. I also like that it’s more “realistic” than the typical Murakami books. My favourite books of him are “1Q84” and “Kafka on the Shore”. Anyway, good post. Keep on reading books. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. If you have the hardcover version of “IQ84”, then you’ll also have a good upper-body work-out while reading it. Because boy, that book is heavy. Anyway, hope that you enjoy it. Cheers!

        Like

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