Haruki Murakami’s latest novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, is what we’ve found next to Yalei Wang’s bedside table in this week’s book review.

 

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki

Haruki Murakami

 

The first thing that sprang to mind when I finished Haruki Murakami’s latest novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki was that it was his most down to earth work so far.

It’s true that there were still magical realism moments, where we ask “Is it real or is it not?”, but all in all this could be a true story – something one often cannot say of a Murakami novel.

Briefly, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki tells of a young man, Tsukuru, who gets dumped by his group of friends in high school with absolutely no explanation at all. Left feeling both abandoned and confused, he descends into a spiral of self-introspection, repeatedly asking himself why and how this all came to be. In the aftermath of this dumping, he befriends new characters including a boy, Haida, who also later abandons the friendship and several on-and-off girlfriends along the way. Tsukuru rebounds off all the characters he meets, and as readers we see his true “colors” are bought out against the grain of his companions. The philosophical baseline of the story is of color and context. In his group of high school friends, Tsukuru stood as the only one not named after a colour, something that only contributed to his feelings of alienation and distance. He is a desolate and lonely character, drifting through life like an emotional pariah, cut off and unable to relate to the greater world.

It’s easy to work your way through Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki quite quickly, and an understanding of Murakami’s traits and personality as a writer is not needed to explain the plot and/or style. Compared to 1Q84, the novel released before Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, Murakami’s latest novel reads more as a venture into the human psyche rather than an expedition into a parallel world of magical realism fantasy. It is about the unreality of real life and the unexpected surprises that inevitably come with intimacy and bonding, which ultimately lead us to look within ourselves as opposed to the outside world.

Readers familiar with his work will find that Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki is a reiteration of Murakami’s style as well as something of a breather from his denser novels such as the Windup Bird Chronicle or Hardboiled Wonderland.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki is arguably Murakami’s least challenging book, and, unlike 1Q84, I would recommend it as an opening entry into his body of work.

 

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