Thursday, March 5, 2015

Book review: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Tsukuru Tazaki is one of the five friends group - three boys and two girls in their school days. After their school, only Tsukuru leaves the comfort of hometown to head to Tokyo for further studies. He is passionate about building railway stations that becomes his subject of study and the profession too. Whenever he is back in hometown Nagoya, he regularly meets his friends. During one of such visits, all of his friends refuse to meet Tsukuru or talk to him. He finds it strange and after repeated attempts, he learns that his friends have abandoned him, cut him-off from their group without an explanation. It pains Tsukuru a lot; he goes into depression for five months. From the verge of suicide, he recovers and learns to get on with his life. After that incident he finds it difficult to make friends and it takes two decades for him to find a promising girlfriend in Sara Kimoto. After they get to know each other better, Sara notices the emptiness in Tsukuru and feels that it has roots in what has happened to Tsukuru in his school days. She helps to track those friends and advises Tsukuru to meet them to fill up the void and eliminate the emotional baggage he is carrying for years.

Tsukuru goes on to meet his two boyfriends first, hears their version of stories and reasoning. One of the girl friends is already dead and she was the prime reason behind the friends maintaining distance with Tsukuru. But another girl friend is living in Finland far away from Japan. Tsukuru goes to Finland to meet up with her friend and many of the facts which were unknown to him open up and things start falling up in place. His friend suggests Tsukuru to hang on to Sara. Once he is back in Tokyo, Tsukuru proposes to Sara and waits for her response.

This has all the ingredients of Murakami’s novels. Loneliness, depression, death, wild dreams, music, liquor and sex. Using all of that into a good recipe, Murakami transports the readers into the story he tells. But he makes few observations which are not usually part of novels, such as science of building railway stations, skills needed to sell the cars, and the effort needed to be competitive in corporate world which he explains through the characters of this novel.

A million copies of this book were sold in the first week of its release. That shows Murakami’s acceptance and commercial success as an author.