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
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.
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.
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.
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.
What book by Haruki Murakami should I try next?