“Some things in life are too complicated to explain in any language” – Haruki Murakami.
Murakami – I have read three books by him so far (this, this and that) and I must say I am impressed with “Colorless Tsukuro Tazaki” because it is simply so different from everything else I have read by him. It is just written under a complete different light; however, it possesses most of Murakami’s essentials. If you are a Murakami fan you know what I mean: the sexual fantasies, consciousness and subconsciousness of the characters, real symbolic dreams and of course a lot of classical music and jazz.
The story: Tsukuru Tasaki is part of a group of five friends who all represent a color [their Japanese names], a talent or a quality. Except for Tsukuru [who is just ‘the builder’] – or this is how he feels almost throughout the book. An event happens and none of his friends want to see or talk to him again without explaining to him why. He is very affected by this, depressed and suicidal and decides to leave to Tokyo where he starts school to become an engineer to build train stations which is his true passion.
“Because I have no sense of self. I have no personality, no brilliant color. I have nothing to offer. That’s always been my problem. I feel like an empty vessel. I have a shape, I guess, as a container, but there’s nothing inside….”
It seems throughout the book that he did not only lose his four friends but that he is also unable to make new friendships simply because he is afraid of rejection. So he lives his days by going to work and back home, following a somewhat steady routine. So far it made me think if there was a time in my own life when I struggled to fit in. When I had this feeling of not belonging or this feeling that I am not good enough for this group of “friends” I was part of. It reminded me of a particular time in high school so I could relate to Tsukuru and his struggles. When I started the book I was shocked how simple the story and language are; there was just nothing complex in it at all. But I think that it is not so much about the plot or said language. It is more about making the reader feel how Tsukuru suffered. How lonely and desperate he felt up to the point of wanting to killing himself. When you read the book you do not have to overanalyze or try to find explanations for everything. Reading the book makes you go with the flow of this relaxing soft melody that continues throughout the book and lets you experience Tsukuru’s misery, feelings, thoughts and love.
I mentioned jazz and classical music before which are so significant for Murakami work. Throughout the book he mentions this classical piece by Franz Liszt called “Years of Pilgrimage – Le mal du pays”. Usually when I read a book and the author mentions a song I google it and let it play in the background while I read this certain passage. I did the same with this book. It is magical. This is how the author felt when he wrote this part of the book or this is how the person described in the book feels right here and now I believe.
One thing I want to mention without giving too much of the story away is that besides depression and loneliness Tsukuru met Sara, who becomes a really good friend, guide and someone who makes him realize that he can love and trust again and open his hearts to something new even though he has been hurt so badly. Sara helped him to confront his fears which was a wonderful thing to read. What was also beautiful is how he describes Finland – yes, he travels there but you have to find out for yourself why. (It definitely makes me want to fly there and discover this awesome country where it is still bright outside at 10pm).
“The air felt purer here than in Helsinki, like it was freshly made. A gentle breeze rusted the leaves of the white birches, and the boat made an occasional clatter as it slapped again the pier. Birds cried out somewhere, with clear, concise calls”.
Murakami is in my opinion a genius writing about all these emotions that make you suffer with Tsukuru. I don’t know what color I would represent in Murakami’s book but I do know that life is just this continuous search of experiences and dreams to make our life on this planet earth as colorful and awesome as possible.