Sunday, February 22, 2015

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

Goodreads| Author's Website

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the long-awaited new novel-- a book that sold more than a million copies the first week it went on sale in Japan--from the award-winning, internationally best-selling author Haruki Murakami.

Here he gives us the remarkable story of Tsukuru Tazaki, a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. It is a story of love, friendship, and heartbreak for the ages.

Excerpt taken from
Rating: 5/5


Having lived in Japan, I became extremely interested in learning more about their culture. Part of that is their literature. I have not yet been disappointed with Haruki Murakami and this is my third read of his. The first story I read was The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles and then 1Q84. Each one puts you in a different place! Westerners (aka America's and Europeans) will more than likely either not like it because it has a completely different mentality and style or be appreciative of the differences. I personally am the latter.


Tsukuru Tazaki- a middle aged man of 36 years old cooping with a traumatic experience that happened back when he was 20. He continually thinks that because his name does not have a color in it that he is a lackluster person.

Sara- Tsukuru's love interest and the trigger for his need to go on the Pilgrimage.

Aka (red), Ao (blue), Shiro (white), Kuro (black)- Tsukuru's close classmates from high school who become  the source of much loss and pain for him.

Haida- a fleeting character that Tsukuru became close with but also had trouble maintaining.

Some Themes

Coming-of-age, loss, loneliness and isolation, alienation, needing closure


This book started out very dark. I really had no idea where this book was leading in the beginning, but as usual, Murakami is a veteran writer and his writing is fluent and extremely pleasant. I believe this book could be read by everyone. We all have probably felt the sting of pain when we inevitably lose a friend which helps the reader relate to Tsukuru.

His journey through coping with the pain (or lack there of for 16 years) is the story we learn about. There are many odd things that happen to him and finding a potential girlfriend who encourages him to confront the people who hurt him is where we really see Tsukuru take on a metamorphosis. I was also able to make connections to this character because I am in my 30's, so I can understand how things feel the same in life while they are in reality so different. I do not want to give anything away, but I was extremely shocked when we find out the reason why the people in his past did what they did to him. I love how Murakami leaves it where there is no real justification because we all get yet another relate able theme, the things that happen in life aren't always explained or justifiable.

I like how there are references to things that I either know or don't know but want to look up. For instance 'Noh'; 'bunraku'; Franz Listz's Le mal du pays'; Aldous Huxley just to name a few. Having read a few other works by him, I noticed that he likes his older characters to drink Cutty Sark. There were two discussions about what sometimes happens to people who had been at the height of their blossoming when they were younger who seemed to have faded when they got older. One didn't handle it well by having a break down of sorts and the other continued to act as if she hadn't diminished which pained friends to watch. This is an interesting analysis and one that I'm sure is true. When you are young, you almost take for granted the youth you wish you maintained forever as you get older. This ties into my last point about this books. It would seems that some people have fears and if they are not careful they will bring upon yourselves the exact things you fear unknowingly to the point of your own 'destruction'.

Favorite Lines:

pg 52~ Jealousy was not a place he was forced into by someone else, but a jail in which the inmate entered voluntarily, locked the door, and threw away the key.

pg 59~ Ideas are like beards. Men don't have them until they grow up.

pg 74~ You shouldn't fear boundaries, but you also should not be afraid of destroying them.

pg 245~ People are in constant motion, never stationary. No one knows what will happen next.

pg 274~ The human heart is like a night bird. Silently waiting for something, and when the time comes, it flies straight toward it.

pg 319~ Unspoken feelings were as heavy and lonely as the ancient glacier that had carved out the deep lake.

pg 384~ Die in reality, or die figuratively- there isn't much difference between the two.

I absolutely recommend this book! It has themes that everyone can relate to and really leaves one thinking. I am an optimistic person and I feel that despite an open ending (you are left to wonder what happens to Tsukuru the next day), I feel that things will work out positively. The book is from the Japanese culture but the themes are absolutely universal.

Just browsing Murakami's website, I found an absolutely amazing resource... he has links to all the music he refers to in his books! That adds so much to the story now that I too can here what he was hearing in his head to aid in his writing of those particular scenes. Click Murakami's Resources to listen to the music. 

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