Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel [in Library Journal]
In high school, Tsukuru Tazaki was part of a “perfect community” of five best friends. Each had a color attached to their family names – red, blue, white, black –except for Tsukuru, rendering him “colorless.” After Tsukuru begins college in Tokyo, he’s brutally excised without explanation.
Sixteen years later, he’s a successful train station engineer living a comfortable life still in Tokyo. Contentment, however, eludes him: “I have no sense of self … I feel like an empty vessel. I have a shape…but there’s nothing inside.” He’s on the verge of his most significant relationship, but his lover warns he “need[s] to come face-to-face with the past” in order to consider a future. His name may lack color, but it also promises agency: tsukuru is the infinitive for “make” or “build.” With Facebook and Google as guides, his pilgrimage will take him home and as far as a Finnish lakeside.
Verdict: Murakami devotees will sigh with relief at finding his usual memes – the moon, Cutty Sark, a musical theme, ringing telephones, a surreal story-within-a-story (this time about passing on death and possibly six fingers). That the novel sold over one million copies its first week in Japan guarantees – absolutely, deservedly so – instant bestseller-status Stateside as well.
Published: 2013 (Japan), 2014 (United States)