Author(s): Haruki Murakami
Tsukuru Tazaki had four best friends at school. By chance all of their names contained a colour. The two boys were called Akamatsu, meaning 'red pine', and Oumi, 'blue sea', while the girls' names were Shirane, 'white root', and Kurono, 'black field'. Tazaki was the only last name with no colour in it. One day Tsukuru Tazaki's friends announced that they didn't want to see him, or talk to him, ever again. Since that day Tsukuru has been floating through life, unable to form intimate connections with anyone. But then he meets Sara, who tells him that the time has come to find out what happened all those years ago.
I am a Haruki Murakami fan, so it is always rather exciting when a new novel is on its way. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, released in Japan in April 2013 sold one million copies in the first month. Lucky us, we got an advance reading copy (I’ll still be buying my very own copy as soon as it arrives in the shop – so yes, it’s that good). Tsukuru Tazaki builds railway stations in Tokyo. He lives a solitary and simple life devoid of meaningful relationships. On the surface he seems, if somewhat remote, careful and purposeful. But beneath this veneer he is scarred from a particular incident that occurred in his early adult years. Tsukuru had been part of a close knit group of friends throughout high school. This group of friends had a special bond where unspoken behaviour and unwritten rules kept the friends from crossing boundaries that would upset the balance. When Tsukuru is ousted from this group, cut out cold without reason nor explanation, he is left bereft. Murakami has given all these friends surnames which include symbols for colour, conversely Tsukuru is the ‘colourless’ one (his surname means ‘to make or build’). Tsukuru sees himself as the bland one, the blank that is the canvas for his more colourful friends. When he is cut adrift, this perspective of himself impinges upon his life. Sixteen years on from the event, Tsukuru is still profoundly affected by it. When he starts seeing Sara, she encourages him to confront his past. Murakami’s latest offering is a mystery, a philosophical conversation and a layered landscape of music, dreams, melancholy and understated humour. Being less complex than IQ84, but more mature than Norwegian Wood, it has elements of many of Murakami’s books, and yet it has its very own texture. - Stella
This was my introduction to the writing of Murakami. It was stunningly beautiful and I will certainly be reading more. In the first pages of the novel the reader is introduced to the utterly broken Tsukuru Tazaki, who had been suddenly and inexplicably rejected from a tight group of friends. He believes himself to be colourless in contrast to his four friends who he strongly relates to the colours in their names. The utter rejection faced by Tsukuru envelops him until he is forced to find out what happened and why. Murakami creates clear and beautiful imagery while maintaining pace and energy in his writing. - Sarah
I had heard some Murakami fans say that they did not enjoy this novel as much as his previous ones, so I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this. Without any of Murakami’s signature magical realism this was a slower read, but it made space for more real-world psychological explorations without the ambiguity that comes with the dream-like sequences in novels such as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. The protagonist looks back at his high-school days and the relationships that he had with a close-knit group of friends who later disowned him. There are some beautiful passages about the nature of creativity and a number of references to classical music, in particular Liszt’s ‘Le mal du pays’, or ‘Years of Pilgrimage’, which is referenced in the title. I actually looked up the piece on YouTube and listened while I read, piano being one of the few instruments I can listen to when I read. - Holly
The new international bestseller from the author of 1Q84, Norwegian Wood and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle
Short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2015.
"Murakami is like a magician who explains what he's doing as he performs the trick and still makes you believe he has supernatural powers ... But while anyone can tell a story that resembles a dream, it's the rare artist, like this one, who can make us feel that we are dreaming it ourselves." New York Times Book Review "The best novelist on the planet" Observer
Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. He is the author of many novels as well as short stories and non-fiction. His works include Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Kafka on the Shore, After Dark, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, and 1Q84. His work has been translated into more than forty languages, and the most recent of his many international honours is the Jerusalem Prize, whose previous recipients include J.M. Coetzee, Milan Kundera, and V.S. Naipaul.