My readers and friends know I’m a huge fan of Haruki Murakami. “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” is no exception.
This is Murakami’s second excursion (I think) into third person narrative (after “1Q84”). And I think he nails it again. As with “1Q84” breaking my psyche when I look into the sky and see only 1 moon peering back at me, “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki (CTT) does similarly but differently.
Unlike his other work, CTT doesn’t include fantastical creatures that usually accompanies Murakami’s Magical Realism story lines. But, that’s not to say he doesn’t pull you into something deeply personal but manages to make it beautifully universal.
Like all Murakami’s stories, it’s tough to explain the plot without either giving the whole book away or sounding like a complete nut job with a hangover. But I think I can say without giving it away that CTT follows a middle aged man (as with most of Murakami’s stories) who believes himself to be one of the most worthless bag of bones around. Not in a “I hate myself” sort of way. Instead he does it in much more of a “I’m so average, so disappear-able, that I stand out about as much as a strand of hair on barber’s floor after a long day” sort of thing.
It’s a relatively short read compared to 1Q84 or Windup Bird Chronicle. Yet it drags you in immediately and I think the reasons are because of how he manipulates the reader. Which brings me to the most important part of reading CTT for me: the Murakami Code.
Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been trying to crack the Murakami Code since I read Windup Bird Chronicle. The Murakami Code is a made up concept I came up with to describe the unknown writing methods Murakami uses to yank the reader in and toy with their mind in a way that I’ve never had another author do. And for 5 years, I struggled to find the answers to the Murakami Code. Reading this book, I think I’ve found it.
To breed anticipation, I’m holding back on telling you the secrets of the Murakami Code until a later post, a post on writing tips by way of the Murakami Code.
Back to CTT.
CTT keeps you reading. Not with action. Not with anticipation. Not with fancy words or colorful phrases…see what I did there? But with pure literary pull and with visceral need to learn about yourself and about Tsukuru Tazaki as he learns about himself through his, well, pilgrimage.
Murakami is one of the few authors I push on every reader and writer I come across. He’s also the one author I’ve found that people either adore for his Kafka-esque literary abilities. Or hate him for his drab, boring depictions of everyday life. For instance, Windup Bird Chronicle opens with the main character making pasta…that’s it. Just making pasta. But it makes you keep turning the page. Because a good writer can interest you in the most mundane.
When Murakami gets his Nobel Prize in Literature (and he will eventually), I will be proud to say, in true hipster style, I knew of his writing before he reached that pinnacle.