I remember the first line in Stephen King’s novel “11/22/63” about watershed moments. In our life, there is always that moment that changes us in a deep and lasting way. Those moments can be fleeting or could span years. But what is true is that our life needs moments like these to give us personality. No matter how dull and boring we may seem, these moments enliven us. Basically that’s the premise of Haruki Murakami’s novel “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his years of pilgrimage”, a story that delves into the life of the eponymous character and trying to find out if, in a sea of colors, Tsukuru (literally translated as colorless) is really a colorless nobody whom nobody remembers.
Colorless Tsukuru is all about the eponymous character as he grapples with the reality that his friends mysteriously cuts him off one summer in his hometown of Nagoya. For the next 16 years, Tsukuru struggles to live a normal life, finding the perfect career (a rail station engineer), and having normal relations with people. As he lives his life, Tsukuru continues to ponder upon the colorlessness of his life and how he, compared to others, have a more fascinating life than he. It is only after a catalyst that Tsukuru begins to see the vibrancy of the world he lives in.
The catalyst, is a woman whom he falls deeply in love with, changes and challenges Tsukuru in a deep and moving manner. If one were to draw comparisons between this novel and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, it wouldn’t be too far off. From the insecurities to the despair, Tsukuru finds a way to find life and enjoy it. Hence his pilgrimage, a journey into the past and finding closure to the abrupt ending of a seemingly good friendship. His pilgrimage brought me to Nagoya where old wounds opened, to Tokyo where life takes on different turns, and the final leap to Helsinki for the truth. And through the truth, Tsukuru sees the world in an entirely new and different light that changes his perspective of things.
For a time, I steered clear of Haruki Murakami’s books, 1Q84 was too much, his magical realism swallowed me up, digested, and spat me out and left me on the floor grappling and comprehending something so deep and philosophical. This time around, Murakami is more straightforward and less trippy, there are no more chrysalis’s to explore or other worlds to comprehend, it’s all about Tsukuru and his struggles in life. His story makes it very appealing for a casual reader like me, I personally connected with Tsukuru and really felt his pains and struggles to find closure and meaning. The story isn’t long or complicated, the beginning was just a bit tedious and overwrought with depression but as the story progresses it becomes exciting and unputdownable.