Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage

Monday, 1 September 2014

'Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage' is the latest masterpiece - sorry, novel - by widely worshipped Japanese author Haruki Murakami. Though only published this August in the UK and North America, the novel was released in Japan to critical acclaim last year, where it sold a million copies in its first month.

If you're not yet familiar with Murakami's work, why not, and let me fill you in. Born in 1949 in Kyoto, Haruki Murakami is a contemporary Japanese novelist whose work has been translated into 50 or so languages. That all? No, actually: he's also dipped his toes in a bit of non-fiction and translated a number of English-language works into Japanese ('The Catcher in The Rye' and 'The Great Gatsby', among others). Anything else? Afraid so: he's something of a recurrent favourite for the Nobel Prize in literature. Oh! and nearly forgot to mention: he also runs a marathon a year. He's 65. 

The man is no big deal or anything. 

'Colourless Tsukuru and his Years of Pilgrimage' is his latest endeavour. It recounts twenty or so years in the life of Tsukuru Tazaki, who, at 36, is pleasant but melancholic and mostly friendless. Tsukuru loses all zest for life when, in college, his four closest friends abruptly cut all ties with him. He doesn't live the next decade so much as survive it; living each day on autopilot, and spending a good deal of his time dwelling on death. Then, when he meets a woman named Sara, his life swiftly takes a turn for the better.
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It's a tale of friendship, nostalgia and never quite fitting in, and it lingers long after turning the final page. While many of Murakami's novels are scattered with the supernatural, 'Colourless Tsukuru' is grounded in the real world. And believe me: Murakami makes the mundane magical.

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