I Did It! (My First Murakami)

So I finished book #68 and knocked out my first from one of those authors who has always intimidated me all at once this morning! I read Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by (duh) Haruki Murakami. After finishing this novel, I’m realizing the irony of my being intimidated by Murakami’s work; based on reading this one book, I found his writing to be incredibly readable.

Most of all, I was intimidated by the sheer amount of work he’s written, and everyone’s really enthusiastic response to it. I know that’s counter-intuitive, but I was just never sure where to start. I bought this book on a friend’s recommendation, and I loved it. 

This book is about a man named Tsukuru Tazaki who belongs to a very close group of four other friends in high school. The group meets while volunteering, and everyone except Tazaki has a color as part of their last name. This is hardly the reason they become close, but it becomes a theme as life goes on for Tazaki and he identifies as colorless, feeling as though he has never had anything to offer anyone.

Anyway, one day after Tazaki has left for college in Tokyo (away from his hometown where the other four friends stay) he receives word that no one in the group wants to ever speak to or see him again. They just cut off all contact with no explanation.

Tazaki (understandably) takes it hard, and this event becomes something of a turning point in his life. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the actual pilgrimage part of his life, but that comes 16 years later when he’s encouraged to try to figure out what happened that caused his abrupt removal from the group.

Like I mentioned, Murakami’s writing (and/or Philip Gabriel’s translation of it) is really approachable and simple and beautiful, all at once. It’s usually hard to strike that balance, but I think Murakami does it well. The story functions really well both at face value and symbolically. There is plenty of metaphorical meaning throughout the novel, but it’s also just an interesting story as it is.

So. I loved it, and I’ve gotten over my Murakami fear. Which is good, because there’s a lot more where that came from, and I’m excited to read it. ◊

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