Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage Review: More Gloomy, Less Riveting

I wouldn’t be wrong if I called Haruki Murakami a perspicacious writer because of the depth and insight that his books offer. But sadly it is the only thing that this book offers. I have read three of his books, and now I know why I’d feel so low after finishing each of his books. At first, I thought maybe because he leaves the ending to the readers’ imagination. But No! It is mainly because his protagonists are mostly lonely men who have unresolved issues in life. And this book is just another example of that. 

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage 

Synopsis: Tsukuru Tazaki belonged to a close-knit group of five friends in high school. One day his friends decide to boycott him and cut all ties with him. Neither do his friends give him any explanation for their decision nor does Tsukuru ask for any. He goes on with his life constantly feeling the burden of being outcast by friends but does nothing to resolve it. 16 years later his girlfriend observes that Tsukuru’s life is still being affected by the heavy log that he has been carrying for so many years. She asks him to go back to his friends and find out the reason behind his ostracism. She feels this will help him live a happy and normal life. He follows her advice and meets his friends with the hope of putting an end to his suffering.

Points I Liked About Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

High on Introspection: Tsukuru Tazaki is the central character and the narrator of the story. He deals with a troubled past and is often found analysing his life and actions. He draws his own conclusions based on assumptions to avoid confrontation. Murakami has outlined Tsukuru’s character so precisely that you would not feel amazed by the fact that he waits for 16 years to know the reason why he was ousted from his group. Tsukuru judges every scenario on his previous experiences and conjectures. Murakami shows how harmful presumptions can be and explains how Tsukuru’s life could have been different had he not been so reticent. He tries to elucidate the importance of speaking up and making things clear before it is too late. He also shows how Tsukuru is depressed to the point of being suicidal but still manages to stay afloat by the sheer will to survive.

Points I Did Not Like About Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Redundant Details: This is common in Murakami books. Explaining every aspect in detail is not a bad thing but it gets agonizing for the reader when the thing explained holds hardly any importance in the story. Tsukuru is an engineer and builds railway stations. Tsukurus’ job is boring and his life (plagued by his past) is painful which is why he is so sad and lonely. But Murakami describes Tsukuru’s job and the reasons why he likes it in such a detailed manner that you start feeling disconnected with the story. Towards the end, when Tsukuru has to discuss something serious with his girlfriend and you are waiting for some important development in their relationship, Murakami fills in the time gap with a five-page description of a railway station in Japan and Tsukurus’ daily life at work. Ugh! I resented the wait.

Too Many Lose Ends: I just hate books that leave certain incidents to the readers’ imagination. I do not mind stories that get you thinking but stories that are left unfinished leave me perturbed. This book is full of mysteries. Just like Tsukuru draws conclusions based on assumptions, I guess Murakami wanted his readers to draw their own conclusion based on whatever they have read in the book. Perhaps, Murakami had the plot but didn’t know how to connect the dots so he left it to the readers to draw the larger picture.


Final View: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is adept and mysterious. It is a typical Murakami book with melancholic setup and a protagonist fighting to find reasons behind a certain event in life. I personally did not like the book that much. I had to coerce myself to finish the book. My only motivation to finish the book was to have certain things cleared by the end, but that never happened, which left me sorely disappointed.


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