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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

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If I were to tweet a summary of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years Of Pilgrimage in 140 characters it would go something like this:

Young man is dumped by high school friends resulting in heartbreak and self-esteem issues. Spends rest of novel feeling sorry for himself.

I know I’m being harsh and in no way do I want to make light of suicidal feelings or depression, but it was difficult for me to connect with the main character despite his justifiable misery.

* CONTAINS SPOILERS

THE STORY
When he is a young man in college, Tsukuru Tazaki is inexplicably cut off from his tight-knit group of high school friends. He is devastated, but has no clue why his friends no longer want to see him. Years go by and Tsukuru suffers from depression and low self-esteem. He has no friends, but gets by with work and his weekly swims. While swimming, he meets Haida and they quickly become good friends, but even that friendship is not meant to last. It isn’t until he is in his thirties and his girlfriend convinces him that Tsukuru decides to meet his old high school friends and finally understand their actions from sixteen years ago.

THE GOOD
Um, the cover? Actually, there is a very good story within this story about a young man working at a mountain resort who meets an old man who is going to die. However, it wasn’t clear to me what the purpose of the story is meant to be because it doesn’t lead to anything.

THE BAD
Tsukuru feels sorry for himself through the whole book and it turned me off his character. I commiserate with the loss of his friends and the depression he suffered, but didn’t he consider that if he stopped navel-gazing for a minute, he might make some new friends? He didn’t even bother to delve into the mystery of why his friends cut him off until his girlfriend refused to have sex with him. Overall, it was hard for me to relate to Tsukuru with his weird sexual dreams and emasculating thoughts.

CONCLUSION
As I read Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years Of Pilgrimage, I kept hoping something would happen to redeem the story in my eyes and there were times when I thought that might happen, such as when Tsukuru surmised that he might have a darker self out in the world. But for all the symbolism and occasional beautiful phrase in Colorless, I found this book boring and a disappointing first experience with Murakami. But I won’t stop here. I’ve heard too many good things about his writing not to want to try another book.

2.5/5 Stars

What book by Haruki Murakami should I try next?

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11 comments on “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

  1. Ngan R.
    August 29, 2014

    Your review echoes the sentiments I’ve heard/read from other readers, too. This would have been my first Murakami until I read all the negative reviews. One reviewer said this was evidence of him riding the success of his last book – 1Q84. I think I will start with that book instead.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      August 29, 2014

      I’ve heard good things about 1Q84 too, so I might try that one next. I also heard Norwegian Wood is good.

      Like

  2. WordsAndPeace
    August 29, 2014

    wow, I found a lot in this book. For me, there’s a lot of depth in Murakami’s writing, and this last book has really all his characteristics. My favorite of all is 1Q84. After Dark is very interesting as ell. If you wonder what I found in this book, you might want to have a look at my own review: http://wordsandpeace.com/2014/08/25/book-review-colorless-tsukuru-tazaki-and-his-years-of-pilgrimage/

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      August 29, 2014

      I spoke to a few people who really loved this book, so I wondered if I just didn’t get Marakami’s intentions. But I couldn’t deny my feelings about this character and decided to give it the review I did. I will definitely try another book that he has written.

      Like

  3. Brian Joseph
    August 30, 2014

    I tend to like thoughtful character studies even if I do not really connect or empathize too much with the characters.

    On the hand your commentary makes this one sound a bit dull and not too full of meaning.

    Even great writers sometimes write books that do not really work.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 4, 2014

      I like character studies too, but was unable to relate to this character. But I definitely try another Murakami book. Have you read any of his books?

      Like

  4. friendlybookworm
    September 2, 2014

    Love your brutal honesty of this book. I’ve seen it absolutely EVERYWHERE, and every book blogger seems to have already read it. I felt like I was missing out but now after reading your blog post I’m not too sure I am :s

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 4, 2014

      Thanks! I feel bad because I normally always find a few positive things to say about a book. I do feel obligated to read one of his other books now to find out why he is so revered. Have you read any of his books?

      Liked by 1 person

      • friendlybookworm
        September 4, 2014

        I have not but I have come across this book a lot recently. I hope his other novels work out better for you!

        Like

  5. DoingDewey
    September 4, 2014

    I really liked this book and found the writing very beautiful, but I was also disappointed it didn’t go somewhere. If magical realism had turned out to be a part of the book, I think I would have liked it a lot more. I also think you make a very valid point about the main character and I couldn’t say why it didn’t bother me.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      September 5, 2014

      A lot of other readers loved this book, so it seems to be a case of just not being right for me personally.

      Like

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