#Murakamania in Technicolor

Article by ben

Every new novel by Haruki Murakami—Japan’s most significant author—is an event, but COLORLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI AND HIS YEARS OF PILGRIMAGE seems especially substantial, and not only because we at Brazos have been Tweeting about #murakamania for ages! Rather, COLORLESS follows Murakami’s expansive, bold, and somewhat divisive 1Q84, a novel that seemed, in its scope, like it aimed to be a definitive statement—a summation of a great author’s lifelong themes/concerns.

COLORLESS is a more focused novel—perhaps more “reader friendly” too—but no less ambitious. It zeroes in on the life of Tsukuru Tazaki, a 36-year-old bachelor who has been alone, in one way or another, ever since his four closest friends—a group with whom he grew up—cut him off for no reason when they were all in their early 20s. Prompted by a new girlfriend, Tsukuru decides to track down his old friends and find out what made them turn on him so suddenly. Accordingly, the plot of the book is loose, episodic—imagine Tarantino’s Kill Bill if, instead of bloodshed, the Bride just wanted to chat.

Of course, nothing is straightforward in COLORLESS, and though the narrative framework exists in “the real world,” Murakami suggests deeper mysteries in a subplot involving Tsukuru’s friendship years earlier with a strange young man who once invaded his dreams—hell, who might’ve even been a ghost. These surreal passages shouldn’t surprise any fans of the author: Murakami has never been one to craft easy solutions to his mysteries.

Murakami is 65, and COLORLESS is a book that only an old man could’ve written—a clear-eyed, powerful work about the choices we make in our lives and the alternate potential histories that exist for all of us. Murakami’s vast experience has flowed into this book, and as Tsukuru, still a young man, wonders what the point of life is, Murakami seems to be saying that you never figure it out—but that, at a certain point, you realize the mystery is the best part.

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