Haruki Murakami is a name that will either create an instant connection or won’t ring a bell at all.
The 66-year-old Kyoto, Japan, born writer now enjoys a celebrity status in the literary world, no longer only a cult-favorite.
His latest book, “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimmage” takes a departure from his usual surreal style and deals with some issues that are closer to real life than almost any of his other works.
Tsukuru Tazaki is a guy who builds train stations, and is a typical Murakami-esque loner. He lives in an apartment by himself, and enjoys jazz and classical records with whiskey. Tsukuru used to have a great group of friends in high school, calling his squad “inseparable,” but suddenly, one day, his friends completely halt all communication with him.
The book deals with Tsukuru’s quest to determine why his friends cut off contact with him so long ago, and how it has affected his life in more ways than he may realize.
As an avid Murakami reader and fanboy, this novel left me feeling a bit empty at the end. Murakami’s best-known works are unique because of a specific brand of surrealism and weirdness; weirdism if you will.
Though there are some books of his (“Norwegian Wood”), that employ realism and are actually enjoyable, “Colorless Tsukuru” feels more like a walkthrough of everyday things with no real climax or ultimate resolution.
Murakami also is famous for his cliffhanger endings, but I just didn’t feel like I had read a quality story after I had finished “Colorless.” There was too much fluff and not enough plot. Despite Tsukuru’s own discoveries throughout the story, his character seems utterly boring and stuck.
This isn’t to say there aren’t good things about this book; Murakami’s writing itself is almost always more interesting and beautiful than anything he actually writes about.
His writing is probably most comparable to Hemingway’s if he were a stay-at-home dad.
The Murakami faithful will eat this up, just like anything he puts out, but I think they (myself included) are eagerly awaiting more.
To contact Spencer Grant, email firstname.lastname@example.org