“Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” by Haruki Murakami (novel, 3/5 stars)
“Every person has their own color.”
I guess this is my best take-away from this novel. And I totally agree.
It’s been a while since I last read a Murakami, and I guess with hibernation, a certain kind of thirst allowed me to easily go through this story easily. You have to understand that despite Murakami’s great works, there is a certain kind of devotion and mood that it demands a reader for it to be appreciated best, if not, the story can seem dragging, and at some points even stale.
Glad to note that “Colorless Tsukuru” was not one of them. And I don’t agree that he was colorless, in anyway. We have our own color that is probably move visible with the people we interact with. Tsukuru’s friends, Aka (red), Ao (blue), Shiro (white), and Kuro (black), always joked about him being colorless, but it was what it was between friends, a joke. However, Tsukuru, already having that feeling of hollowness within felt that this coincidence with the name is a reflection of who he is in the bigger scheme of the universe. Well, they were only in high school that time, so sue him for being all emo. We all go through that anyway.
Tsukuru represents a monster in us all: a cruel critique of ourselves. Up to the very end, Tsukuru was still in the process of understanding himself, of appreciating more of his strengths, and finding that shade of color in him which is not at all a cliff-hanger if that’s the thought that Murakami wanted to convey. We will forever be the worst critique of ourselves, and unless we see ourselves beyond the filth that we often put ourselves into when things don’t go our expectation, we will forever be a prisoner of that colorless world no matter how much others paint us with their colors. Life is an endless pilgrimage of self-discovery and finding happiness. We may never be whole our entire life, but we gain it’s meaning through actively seeking how we can put the pieces together. Friends, family, events, and experiences help make the pilgrimage rich with growth.
Now, why the three stars only? Three reasons:
1. Haiga – What the hell happened to this character? I know that Tsukuru stated that he never met Haiga again, I was kind of expecting an unexpected reunion somewhere in the metro, in Finland, or even just in the pool or train station. Haiga was a big part of the memorable dream Tsukuru had which connected to Kuro and Shiro. At least somehow there’s an explanation to the Kuro-Tsukuru-Shiro threesome, but Haiga swallowing all the eherm, what was that all about? A few weeks later, he disappeared out of Tsukuru’s life. I was expecting the protagonist to seek out Haiga like he did with his four estranged friends as he stated that Haiga was “blocking” him too. I dunno. It’s a big question mark for me. And even if that was intentional (because by the end Tsukuru had more of less an idea of what he should do when people suddenly go cold on him—lesson in 16 years), but I wished we had a window to that scene somehow.
2. Patterns – sadly, it feels that after reading about four Murakami books, you get a pattern of themes and elements (dream sequence, music, someone goes missing, emotional or mental isolation, etc), then the story instantly becomes less interesting. Why? You somehow already have an idea what will be the flow of it.
3. Ending – I’ve emphasized this a lot of times, but ending is very important for me when it’s time to close the book. The ending was understandable, as mentioned, the story hints of a self-growth for Tsukuru but what lies ahead of him with this growth is already not within our reach but only to our hope for the character. However, the ending with the dragging talk about his life in Tokyo, the train stations, his routine, etc was just….urgh. Shoot me, but I didn’t get it.