Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is certainly a book you can judge by its cover. It is another beautifully book designed by Chip Kidd showing a Japanese subway system map with windows of color. I highly recommend buying the real book for this and not the e-book. It’s truly one of his best covers for a Murakami book. It’s also with great relief to report that what’s inside is also another great Murakami novel. It may not be his best but it is certainly one that won’t disappoint. For me his greatest works are Norwegian Wood and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.
This story revolves around Tsukuru Tazaki, a lover of all things trains, especially train stations. His current job is to create train stations, so he loves spending time at stations and observing everything about them, including the people who take them. He is a bit of a loner due to the fact that four of his best friends that he grew up with in Nagoya decided to cut him off for good and never speak to him again. Tsukuru wants to find out why these best friends did what they did. Did they decide to suddenly cut him off when he moved to Tokyo and they all decided to stay in Nagoya?
The colorless part of the title refers that all his friends had names that meant colors. The name Tsukuru means ‘to build.’ Did his last name not being a color have anything to do with the break up or was it something else? What we find out in the beautiful style of Murakami writing is that each person had a reason for doing what they did when they banished Tuskuru from the group. He sets on this journey after his almost girlfriend Sara tells him he needs to do this for himself to find out who he truly is. As he meets them one by one he finds out that one of his friends is a Lexus car dealer, another is a motivational speaker who ends up telling Tsukuru that he is gay, another moves to Finland to make pottery, and the last one meets a sad fate.
Also in this novel you get vintage Murakami with stories about life and death, a bit about people with six fingers, and tales about things that make Murakami one of Japan’s most successful writers. This particular book sold one million copies in it’s first week in Japan. This reviewer has read everything that had ever been translated into English and have rarely been disappointed. Like Tsukuru, the pilgrimage of reading this book will lead him and you to find out lots of things about yourself as an adult. For Tsukuru, he finds out why they did what did even though they knew it was the wrong thing to do. The unfairness he endured made him what he is today. Like it or not we are taught that words are weapons that can damage someone so badly that it can darken the rest of their lives. For Tsukuru, escaping the darkness of his life meant opening up his mind and seeing that all lives have meaning even if the color his was not something that anyone else could see until he stepped back and saw that it was beautifully colored in so many ways.