Colorless Tsukur Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (Knopf, 2014)

Colorless Tsukur Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (Knopf, 2014)

By Karina Corona

Haruki Murakami is a man of incredible talent. With 19 titles and translated into 50 languages, this Japanese writer is considered by some to be one of the leaders in postmodern literature. 

As a twenty-something college student living in a major U.S. city, I already know what you’re thinking dear reader. You’re thinking, "Murakami? Is this another review on Norwegian Wood?" To this, I have the following to say: um, Norwegian Wood is a wonderful book that deals with the many dimensions of personal trauma and recovery and no, this review is actually on Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.  

Right from the first line, Murakami captures the reader and pulls them into the story of Tsukuru Tazaki, a 36-year-old railroad engineer living in Tokyo. Following a traumatic event that took place during his sophomore year in college, Tsukuru is left emotionally crippled and exiled from the only friends he’s ever known. With nothing but the thought of dying keeping him company, Tsukuru almost reaches the point of no return before deciding to revisit his past and get an answer to the question which left him restless for nearly 16 years: Why? 

The wonder of Murakami's writing is in the detail of his characters. For example, Tsukuru translates to “to make or build” and his surname, Tazaki, contains no color or symbol which sets him apart from the group of friends he is later exiled from as all of their sur names contain sort of relation to a specific color—a detail that is unrelated to his exile, yet meaningful nonetheless. In addition to the classic Murakami style, there is a mysterious character involved and a plot twist even sharper than his character development. 

While some may argue that each Murakami novel is alike, I will argue that that very thing is the beauty behind his writing. To take a story and mold it in a way that is consistent and universal but still keep true to the individuality of the story and its characters is what keeps me and the millions of other Murakami readers coming back for more.   

November 28, 2016