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

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You can hide memories, suppress them, but you can’t erase the history that produced them.

I’ll start off by saying that before this book, I’d never read anything by Haruki Murakami, who so many people seem to absolutely love. I know. I heard great things about his newest release, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, and decided I would make it my starting point. Since finishing this, though, now I know what I was missing out on and want to read all the Murakami! *There are a few spoilers below, so if you want to read this without knowing anything, stop now!*

Tsukuru Tazaki has four best friends, all named for colors: Shiro (white), Kuru (black), Aka (red), and Ao (blue). Tsukuru’s name doesn’t have a colored meaning. Tsukuru means ‘to build.’ Because of the meanings of their names, Tsukuru often feels colorless, like he doesn’t belong in this group of colorful, interesting friends. One day, during his sophomore year of college, his friends inform him they no longer want to see him. Ever again. Tsukuru is lost and alone, trying to figure out why the group, which always meant to much to him, could just cut him off. Sixteen years later, Tsukuru’s girlfriend, Sara, urges him to find out what happened all those years ago, and to finally make peace with his old friends.

I can only describe this book as quiet. It’s a thoughtful book about one man’s journey to understanding the past in order to progress in and understand his present. Filled with insightful thoughts about friendship, life, and loss, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki kept me completely engrossed from start to finish. I had to know why a group of friends as close as Tsukuru’s would just sever a friendship like that. The answer was not at all what I was expecting, and not exactly resolved by the novel’s end, but somehow worked for the story overall. When I first started, I worried that the whole book would be a pity party for Tsukuru but it was exactly the opposite as he came to a better understanding of his friends and himself.

The loose ends that remained at the end were the one problem I had with this book. Tsukuru makes another friend, Haida (grey) in college, who ends up disappearing as well, and we never find out why or what happened to him. I thought for sure that since Tsukuru was on a journey to understanding, Haida would make another reappearance.

Still, though, this book was quick and completely absorbing. If you’re a new comer to Murakami like I was, or a long time fan, I think anyone could find something to love in Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage. 

5 comments

  1. I have seen this author come up ocassionally and so I must check out what I’m missing. I stopped reading once you pointed out spoilers. I shall return later to compare notes.

    1. I absolutely loved the cover! It looked really cool with the jacket on, and then I took it off and liked it even more. I started Norwegian Wood this week and I’m really loving it so far, but it has a LOT of similarities to Colorless Tsukuru

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