What a mouthful of a name! It actually took me a few days into reading this book for me to realise the full title. I just thought that the title was Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki. Oops! Look at the cover, you might understand why? Maybe? Either way Murakami is a name that has kept on popping up all over the place. After pursuing his catalogue at the bookstore I finally settled on this one for my first foray into his works. A fine choice if I do say so myself. Safe to say after only a few pages in I was a fan. This novel is about, you guessed it, Tsukuru Tazaki and his relationship with his four best friends form high school. Each of their names translates to a different colour, while Tsukuru is well, colourless. Colourless by name and colourless by nature, in his opinion anyway. One day out of the blue his friends decide to stop speaking to him with no explanation. Tsukuru struggles through life unable to form meaningful attachments with others until he is prompted to return to his past and find out what really happened. Why did his friends abandon him?
Instantly I fell in love with Murakami’s writing style. It is straight forward, stoic, yet descriptive and rich. The Japanese voice is unlike any other. Compare it to the highly emotional, impulsive mind of a Westerner like many of the books you read. The contrast is sharp and I found myself responding to the simple honesty of his words. Tsukuru was an intriguing narrator. He was well spoken, modest and clearly damaged by his past. I found his inner monologue a pleasure to read. His view on death and how close he came to it was fascinating. I also loved his descriptions of his group of friends: Aka, too intelligent for his own good, Ao, the typical jock, shy and beautiful Shiro and the quirky and funny Kuro. I wanted to know so much more about them and, ultimately, to understand why the abandoned him without a warning.
I can see where others may not have enjoyed the ending. This is a book that will leave you hanging. While many of the questions posed in the book are answered in a more than satisfying way, there are a few niggling questions left unanswered. If you aren’t a fan of a lingering mystery, this may not be for you. I found that enough of my questions were answered but I found myself wondering what really happened in the end? Did Tsukuru end up with was he was so sure he wanted by those last few pages? I will never know, but I can wonder. Another aspect of the book that I quite enjoyed was the references to the metaphysical. The existence of Tsukuru’s true nature within himself and the other abstract thoughts that Murakami introduced were intriguing and, again, quite representative of aspects of the Japanese culture.
While this was my first Murakami, it will certainly not be my last! Although with such a large back catalogue any suggestions of where to go to next? Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki was a fairly short, enjoyable and addictive read. The characters were mysterious and elusive, the mysteries of the novel left you wanting more and the use of language by Murakami was impeccable. I give this novel three of Tsukuru’s train stations that he enjoys so much.