“Maybe I am fated to always be alone, Tsukuru found himself thinking. People came to him, but in the end they always left. They came, seeking something, but either they couldn’t find it, or were unhappy with what they found (or else they were disappointed or angry), and then they left. One day, without warning, they vanished, with no explanation, no word of farewell. Like a silent hatchet had sliced the ties between them, ties through which warm blood still flowed, along with a quiet pulse.”
Tsukuru Tazaki had four best friends in high school, all of whose names had a color inside them. He always felt that he didn’t quite fit with them because his name did not, but they were close despite what he felt was his colorlessness. Four friends who did everything together, an inseparable group that seemed to be balanced perfectly between each personality. Until the day they were gone.
For no reason that he can fathom, his friends cut him off with no explanation. They don’t answer his calls, avoid him when he’s home and he doesn’t see them again for many years. From that day forward, Tazaki is lost. He seems unable to connect to other people, gaining no more close friends and engaging in no close relationships. He attends college, gets a job and moves on with his life physically in Tokyo, but his spirit is still stuck in his past. He almost doesn’t survive the loss, as their absence from his life sends him into a deep and almost irreversible depression.
Then he meets Sara. A lovely woman who attracts him and who he can actually see, possibly, spending the rest of his life with. She presses him to find out what happened, insisting that they won’t be able to move forward until he fixes his shattered past because some part of him will always be holding back. Always waiting for his friends to return.
Tazaki embarks upon trips to confront and speak with each person in his old quartet to figure out what happened and why.
And what he finds is deeply disturbing.
Murakami is as always, mystical, enthralling and personal. He delves into his characters unabashedly, showing you their strange nightmares and weird urges along with their softer inclinations and goodness. Tazaki sees himself as a boring person and much of the book feels muted because of how he describes himself, his past and his thoughts. He seems almost detached from the innermost self he lays bare for us; the same detachment he battles with in his relationships with other people. His despair in being colorless permeates his entire story and how it unfolds.
Though this wasn’t my favorite Murakami, it was definitely a worthwhile read. For those that may have struggled with 1Q84, this is completely the opposite – in length, size and design.
“Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” is a pocket-sized story packed with emotional resonance and atmospheric storytelling. Tazaki will give you hope that even those who are lost for a long time, can find their way back to who they were meant to be.