Monday, September 1, 2014

Review:"Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage" by Haruki Murakami

I hate to do what is expected in this review of the latest novel by Haruki Murakami, the long-windedly titled Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, but I am: while it I will use hyperbolic speech, I mean it when I say that this might be the best novel he has written, and most certainly his most accessible. To be honest, I can see why some people would be turned off by a Murakami novel; they are filled with unanswered questions and vague symbols whose meaning is, most of the time, secondary to how they make the character, and by extension the readers themselves. And while that is what I have come to love and cherish in his novels and stories, I can see why some people will find it a turn-off. But even though it exists in this latest novel, it is more grounded in reality and coincidence. There are no talking goats or talking cats, and the sky will not suddenly sprout a second moon in this story. The events in this novel run on pure emotion, and the emotion of each of these wonderfully drawn people caught up in events that bring about sudden and radical change. This is one of the best “late” novels that has ever been written: you can tell Murakami is getting older and feeling the emotional effects of aging. Each page is filled with burning regret and the kind of hopeful nostalgia that might hold the unpromised hope for a bright future. It begins with the title character in a tailspin of depression, only with someone like Murakami; it is a state of being more akin to the destruction of the soul. The young Tsukuru has suddenly become friendless after his four best friends from high school cruelly cut him out of their life with no warning or explanation. This leaves a harsh wound in him that continues on through his life until he is thirty-six, when he meets Sara, a woman he is in love with, instructs him to go and seek out these four individuals who cast him out all those years before. What comes after these events is a journey that will take Tsukuru across the world to seek out a missing part of himself that holds the key to what might be his last chance at happiness. When I was reading this, I kept thinking of Murakami’s short fiction, stories like “The Mirror” and “The Seventh Man” kept inching their way into my headspace, since they possessed the same simple, mysterious quality that you can apply to everyday life. Even the introduction to one of the chapters, which is a story someone tells to Tsukuru, made me think at first Murakami recycled it from the aforementioned “The Mirror”. There is something simply magical about this book, with moments of heart stopping tenderness and an ending that shows the importance of giving yourself up to chance sometimes in life. This struck quite a chord with me in what I am going through right now in life, but even if that wasn’t the case, this is still one of the best books by one of the world’s best writers.

Rating: 5/5

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