Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

The new, and always highly acclaimed Haruki Murakami novel is a chickflick, somehow, if that’s possible in the hands of this weird, spectacular writer.

The new Murakami is always a small sensation, in both Japan and the rest of the world. Haruki Murakami is the novelist who should have won the Noble Prize long before, with his fairytales and his realism , with his spirituality and explicit violence, his whiskey and his jazz. He (rightly so) has a large group of followers swooning.

His latest book ‘The colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Pilgrims Years’ will launch January 11th in Holland and will be launched at the Murakami Festival in Amsterdam, organized by publisher Atlas Contact and literary-quarterly Das Magazin . Murakami’s books always appear early in Dutch, even before the English translation (August 12, 2014), thanks to our rapid translators (this time: Jacques Westerhoven).

In preparation for the festival, I read the book during this years dark, dark Christmas days. Three-hunderd-and-fifty pages, not that long for a Murakami. And quite comprehensive moreover, without supernatural events and great fantasy worlds. Murakami is less ambitious than his previous book (the ‘one half and a brick’ IQ84) but with a staggering result nonetheless. This story is about Tsukuri Tazaki, the reportedly colorless center of a group of close friends, called white, black, blue and red (two girls and two boys). When Tsukuru leaves his hometown to study in the city, the friendship is suddenly unilaterally terminated. His colorful friends tell him that they do not want to see him, ever again, without giving any reason why.

Then the pilgrim years of Tsukuru Tazaki start, with a heavy heart and freshly forged armor against further hurt. Murakami raises all sorts of questions about he plot which he answers superficially, us usual. Just enough not to piss us off, just enough to keep you interested. But the plot is secondary to his real story: the loneliness of Tsukuru and how it feels growing up when the door to your youth is brutally slammed. Adrift floating on the sea, as Tsukuru tells us. And Murakmi experiences it along, the quest for Tsukuru’s soul , but he is also strict: Tsukuru has to accept his fate and wear it as a gentleman. First he has to find out what happened, before he’s allowed to take off his armour.

This proved to be a soft Murakami, a kind of chickflick. Normally reading a Murakami is always a little bit scary. Before you know it eyeballs are traced. But this story sways quietly. And although this is undoubtedly a snack, Murakami proves again that his style is unique. Somehow, he’s from another galaxy, even in a story that’s so close to home. In every way odd, in every way spectacular.

Even the story of the colourless Tsukuru Tazaki changes into a colourful fairytale in the hands of Murakami.