I have come across Haruki Murakami’s books in bookshops in the past but I have never bought any of his books though he is an award-winning, internationally best-selling author. A few days ago, I went to Popular Bookstore in Kuching with my eldest brother and finally decided to try out Haruki Murakami by buying his bestselling Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, a book that sold more than a million copies the first week it went on sale in Japan. Haruki’s popularity is so immense that readers wait for his work the way past generations lined up at record stores for new albums by the Beatles.
It is a story of love, friendship, and heartbreak. I will not reveal too much on the plot of the book. It is the story of Tsukuru Tazaki and his four closest friends, two boys and two girls. Each of them has a colourful last name: Akamatsu (Red Pine ), Oumi (Blue Sea), Shirane (White Root) and Kurono (Black Field) except for Tsukuru. It’s representative for the way he thinks about himself: colourless, with nothing valuable to offer the rest of the group – or even the world. Little does he know that that’s not the way the others think about him.
Tsukuru’s feeling of being excluded increases dramatically during college, when suddenly, without warning, his four friends kicked him out of their circle. They don’t return his phone calls, and they announce that they never want to see him or talk to him again. It was a sudden declaration with no room for compromise. They gave no explanation, not a word, for this harsh pronouncement. And Tsukuru didn’t dare ask.
Why Tsukuru’s friends dropped him is the central mystery driving this novel. The major part of the book is about Tsukuru embarking on a pilgrimage to seek out each of the former friends to find out why he was so harshly removed from his circle of friends
On the positive side: I love the melancholic atmosphere, the book is easy to read, it has some beautiful prose, the characters are believable. On the negative side: I find the ending a bit disappointing as I am left in the dark as to what is the final decision of Sara, Tsukuru’s girlfriend.