I’ve read ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’ at quite some time ago, but haven’t write any reviews yet although I’ve made some notes and highlights for this book. It’s the fourth Haruki Murakami‘s book I’ve read, after ‘Kafka on the Shore’, ‘Norwegian Wood’, and ‘1Q84’. However, the Japanese Literature Reading Challenge which I joined recently has motivated me to give my thoughts on any Japanese literary works that I’ve read.
‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki…’ tells the story of a quite, introvert, and seemingly not-so-ambitious man named Tsukuru Tazaki who has an established job as an engineer in a Tokyo-based railway station company. Sadly though, his secure and sufficient life is not make him enjoy it anyway because of a haunting event from the past.
Back to his high school life at Nagoya prefecture, Tsukuru befriended with four persons whose all of their names contain colors: Akamatsu (literally means “red pine”), Oumi (“blue sea”), Shirada (“white lily”), and Kurono (“black field”). The only person whose name ‘colorless’ is Tsukuru. To tell you the truth, there was something I just realized after finished reading this book: the group of five friends is also reflected on the book cover where there are four circles of color: red, blue, white, and black; and one colorless circle in which the book title being placed on it.
The group is always held together and shares stories each other, until an unexpected mysterious event had separated them, or to be exact, Tsukuru’s four ‘colorful’ friends had left and abandoned him without any explanation. This condition is unimaginable to Tsukuru as they were his closest friends and the fact that they cut him off without notice is unbearable to Tsukuru. This makes him feel even more insignificant and negative, as he eventually thinks that he really is ‘colorless’, the colorlessness that makes him feel that he has nothing to offer to everyone around him. Consider the importance of their friendship, Tsukuru tries to confront them in order to find at least the answers and reasons why they left him, which was unfruitful because four of them refuse to speak with Tsukuru and are always try to stay away from him.
The story then moves to Tsukuru’s life after being painfully rejected by his group. After high school he moved to the capital city to pursue a degree in engineering and later achieved a position in a major railway company, just as his biggest passion which is reflected from his name ‘Tsukuru’ which means ‘to build something’. It’s during this period however, Tsukuru has a close relationship with an intelligent and beautiful woman named Sara Kimoto who encourage him to meet his former friends to get a clue on what was happening when they suddenly abandoned him. After some hesitations and careful consideration, Tsukuru finally decides to confront the past, no matter how absurd or unacceptable their reasons might be.
However, the use of colors as metaphors may be a red herring that plays along well to move the story and to keep reader’s curiosity. The exact reasons why their colorful friends have abandoned him may not be the true essence of the story even though it’s certainly the sole purpose of the protagonist to move forward within the plot. We may see this similar plot in his other works, such as Norwegian Wood. Nevertheless, Murakami seems to give a heavier portion to the character’s development and the journeys toward the goals.
‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki…’ is a kind of novel which prose will get along well with readers who are in loneliness and depression to overcome it. It is an enjoyable read. I prefer ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki…’ over his other works I’ve ever read before. This book may be a perfect introduction for Murakami’s early readers to enter his surreal world of literature.
This review is a part of