colorless tsukuru tazaki and his years of pilgrimage

colorless tsukuru tasaki and his years of pilgrimage//wanderaven

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

I've just realized that I always anticipate liking Murakami more than I actually end up doing.

This is the fourth book and third full length novel I've read by Murakami.

And, yes, it has many of those elements that polarize readers into either loving or despising him. A young man full of angst, a young woman wise beyond her years, a mysterious woman doing unfathomable things, depression, searching, sex.

I don't complain about these elements because they are Murakami, so if you don't like them in the books you read, don't read Murakami. I do feel like I have to be in the right mood to read him, and be okay with some possible meandering and search for meaning. Sometimes, as autumn chills the evening hours and a long winter looms ahead, one wants to read these sorts of characters and ideas.

Those who also like the surrealist tendencies of Murakami, you won't find much here. There's a bit, mostly associated with dreams, but I won't even go so far as to categorize it as magical realism.

As always, I liked the characterizations and the ideas Murakami presents for thought. The physical copy of this novel is clever, gorgeous. My primary disappointment with Colorless is with the ending. There are two primary questions driving the plot for the novel, and neither one of them are resolved.


Yes, yes, I know.  If I'm reading a book about a pilgrimage (it's right there in the title!), and particularly if it's written by Murakami, I have to expect that one of the ultimate outcomes of the pilgrimage is the protagonist better understanding himself and his place in the world. This is certainly covered. But couldn't he have at least resolved one of the driving questions? I know some people hate novels with unresolved mysteries and story lines, and others feel like those other readers are unimaginative and unwilling to accept the artistic reasons why a writer might leave the reader with such an ending.

I'm inclined to veer towards the former, although I have finished reading novels where there are all sorts of loose ends but I'm okay with it. I have issues, however, with novels whose very foundation, very reason for inciting the story and carrying it through, is to resolve the mystery or the romance, but fail to do so. You're reading the book because you want to find what happened, damn it. I suppose the primary reasons why I'm sometimes okay with things being resolved and sometimes not okay include how strong a factor the issue was in the book and the motivations of the protagonist, and how powerful the material around that issue is, to stand the book up when the issue falls away.

Tsukuru has his own theories about the primary inciting incident for his pilgrimage, but it felt like a self-comforting guess, philosophizing, and, for me, completely pointless and unrealistic.

Frustrating, yes, but certainly not enough to stop exploring Murakami's works.