Title – Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
Author – Haruki Murakami
Tsukuru Tazaki is a young man who has experienced incredible loss. He has lived the majority of his adult life alone, but unable to connect with anyone on a relationship level that is sustainable. He doesn’t know why and until it is pointed out to him by his current girlfriend.
He retells the story of his teenage years and the four friends he had. All of their names translated into a color, except for his. He always felt that somehow that showed how he was less than them. But they cared for him anyway and with them he felt part of something very special.
Until the day he returned back home from college, on a weekend break, to have each of his friends refuse to take his calls. Until finally one of them calls him and tells Tsukuru that the group wants nothing to do with him any longer and that they would rather he never called them again. Shocked, he agrees to leave them alone. This episode has shaped his whole being into adulthood. Leaving him a solitary and untrusting man. Unable to sustain or build a true relationship with anyone.
“…Perhaps he didn’t commit suicide then because he couldn’t conceive of a method that fit the pure and intense feelings he had toward death. But method was beside the point. If there had been a door within reach that led straight to death, he wouldn’t have hesitated to push it open, without a second thought, as if it were just a part of ordinary life…”
His girlfriend convinces Tsukuru, that after all these years, he needs to search out these friends and find out why they cast him out. That he would never truly be complete until he finds out why they abandoned and shunned him.
Reluctantly, but knowing he needed to, Tsukuru begins his pilgrimage to find out the truth. In doing so, he will unravel truths and secrets about himself and his friends. And the lies they have weaved around one another for the last decade. This journey for Tsukura is one of self discovery and redemption. Of forgiveness given and needed for all involved. Of friendship and memories that can never be reclaimed, but yet, perhaps better left to the past.
I am left with mixed emotions on this novel. For that alone it should be read. Any book that can illicit from the reader a sense of emotion should be recognized for what it truly is.
Damn good writing.
My issue is simple. If I had known Tsukuru Tazaki, I would probably have asked the depressing, self involved, emotionally handicapped whiney ass to stop calling me too and that I no longer wanted to be friends with him. Like ever. But I would have told him why. That he was a depressing, self involved, emotionally handicapped whiney ass butt wipe and honestly, because your name does not translate into a color you are less than everyone else? Seriously? Instead his friends simply refuse to talk to him and he, for his part, simply accepts this proclamation and tries to go on. Spiraling even deeper into what can only be a suicidal depression.
So what is good about this story?
Writing. Damn good writing! And did we mention that this damn good writing is a translation as well?
I am convinced that Haruki Murakami could write out my grocery list and make it dramatic and compelling. The depths of Tsukuru’s mind that Murakami plumbs to describe the pain and confusion he feels by being ostracized by his friends is handled with a grace and poise that is rarely seen in American novels. Murakami does it with effortless ease, or so it seems. For all of this is from Tsukuru’s thoughts, dreams and muses. On the outside, as is true in Japanese culture, nothing is shown.
Murakami is exploring not only the human mind, but the tender and often confusing emotions that dwell within.
Damn good writing. A very good read.