Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Haruki Murakami

Book cover

This was an enjoyable book, but I came away from it feeling like Murakami had stagnated a bit. His previous book, “1Q84,” was definitely a bold piece of work, extremely long and dense, with a lot of weird stuff going on. Even if it wasn’t my favorite book of his, it was definitely ambitious. CTT, on the other hand, felt basically like “generic Murakami.” The protagonist is the usual Murakami cipher. (By contrast, 1Q84 had an equal-billing female lead.) I also felt like I had met many of the characters before, and not really in a good way. Aka, for example, is more or less Noboru Wataya from “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle,” Shiro is more or less Naoko from “Norwegian Wood.” I had the sense that one of the scenes in CTT was repeated from “South of the Border, West of the Sun,” though I don’t have that book on hand so I’m not sure. Mild spoiler alert: unlike much of Murakami’s work, CTT has no overtly mystical elements, though some weird speculation does occur.

I did very much like the character of Kuro, and I did not feel like I had “met her” in any of his previous work. In a sense she became the “real protagonist” of the story for me. It’s too bad she only has a brief appearance in terms of pages.

Finally, I’ll say that I felt very disappointed, almost angry, at Tsukuru’s mindset at the end of the book. I am not sure if Murakami meant to elicit this reaction. I’ll avoid spoiler-ing, but suffice it to say that I felt that at the end, Tsukuru is behaving in a way that indicates he has not learned, or has not learned the appropriate thing, from his experiences.

Anyway, as I said, I enjoy reading anything by Murakami, and this was no different. But it did not feel exciting or especially impressive.

My Goodreads rating: 3 stars