I have read Haruki Murakami’s new novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, and I am afraid to say, I didn’t like it as much as his other books.
Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki is a young man, part of a group of five friends in high school, who suddenly finds himself excommunicated from the group. Sixteen years later, Tsukuru visits his three remaining ex-friends, to find out why they had stopped talking to him back then. The book is mostly a narrative of Tsukuru’s visits to his three friends. On the back of it, a love-story is unfolding between Tsukuru and Sara, a young friend of his who is encouraging Tsukuru to find out more about his excommunication.
The book has all the traits that distinguish Murakami’s writing style: the metaphors, the existential crises, the ambiguous relationship of fantasy and reality and, of course, classical music and jazz references. Nevertheless, it is more reminiscent of Murakami’s Norwegian Wood rather than his other more surreally-oriented books, like Kafka on the Shore, IQ84 and The Wild Sheep Chase.
The language is simple but not simplistic. In a typical Murakami fashion, every sentence seems part of a wider picture; of a master-plan that progresses line-by-line towards completion. Murakami has exquisitely narrated a rather boring story. Unfortunately, not even a skilful wordsmith as himself with the extraordinary story-telling talent that he has, can save a boring story from itself.
The surreal bits of the book were nowhere as deep, or as well-integrated into the story as they have been in his other books. There was a deeper reading to be made on various parts of the book, but the author did not provide any guidance to the readers, who are left alone to make all the conjectures and the hypotheses that their minds allow them.
I don’t want to use the term “superficial,” but at some points this is what I felt while reading Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki. And as far as the pilgrimage goes, there wasn’t any.