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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read, if not his finest
I'm a huge fan of Haruki Murakami's work, but after the awful (in my opinion) "1Q84" I confess I wasn't really looking forward to reading this. I'm pleased to say that it is a much more enjoyable read, if a less challenging one.

The book opens rather depressingly with Tsukuru Tazaki full of despair as he has no friends. Back in his youth he was one of...
Published 7 months ago by Peter Lee

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Starts with a bang and goes out with a whimper...
Agree with another reviewer the second half of the book had us rather going around in circles. About two thirds the way through I wondered "was HM in a rush to finish this book?' which I've never felt with any of his other books - certainly not IQ84 (the only book of his I never finished). Given a draft to read my report would have been: Okay HM makings of a good book...
Published 4 months ago by Andrew Langdon


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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read, if not his finest, 10 Sept. 2014
By 
Peter Lee (Manchester ,United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I'm a huge fan of Haruki Murakami's work, but after the awful (in my opinion) "1Q84" I confess I wasn't really looking forward to reading this. I'm pleased to say that it is a much more enjoyable read, if a less challenging one.

The book opens rather depressingly with Tsukuru Tazaki full of despair as he has no friends. Back in his youth he was one of a group of five friends who were inseparable, but one day the other four ostracised Tsukuru apparently for no reason. He knew that the other four (two girls and two boys) had colours in their names whilst his did not, but surely that couldn't be the reason? He attempts to contact one of his friends to find out more but they simply tell him that he knows the reason already and shouldn't contact them again.

Years later he is on the verge of entering into a relationship but the woman he meets tells him he has issues, and that he needs to find the root cause. He explains about his circle of friends and his isolation from them, and she tells him that he needs to find out why they pushed him out, and that only by doing this will she continue with their relationship. So Tsukuru sets out to contact his old friends and find out the truth.

In many ways it is similar to his earlier work such as "Norwegian Wood", as this is an easy book to read and has a similarly cold atmosphere to it, almost a sterility. It's a bit of a page turner too, especially when Tsukuru starts to find things out, although it is a little repetitive as the latter half of the book is essentially a series of meetings and conversations. As some have commented the ending is a little open, but I drew my own conclusions about what happened next, and although I'd have liked a bit more of a full-stop at the close it wasn't too frustrating.

For those who are new to Murakami this would be a good place to start before venturing back into his stranger, often better books, but for me this was thoroughly enjoyable as it is.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "You can't erase history, or change it. It would be like destroying yourself", 13 April 2015
Murakami is unequivocally one of Japan's greatest writers. Our blessing is we get to read and enjoy more books from his pen.
Reading this latest, after IQ84, I found it a collaborative set of vignettes rather than a heavyweight excursion into fusing a neon Tokyo with a fantastical element driven by the mind of a quasi-religious cult. In some respects, though Murakami's authorship is far more heavyweight, IQ84 was similar in construct to that great fantasy author, Charles De Lint. Both writers choose to bridge the twilight between the modern world of reality and the mythological one where faerie lurks in the shadows, basks in the light. In this latest novel, color is the theme, misunderstanding borne of well-intentioned aspirations the vehicle for the narrative that is Tsukuru.
Our serious, overly analytic - clearly introverted - railway station engineer has emerged from the nihilistic state brought on by his social exclusion from his childhood "Famous Five" (an inadvertent nod to Enid Blyton) to seek answers to why his four friends - Kei Akamatsu, Yoshio Oumi, Yuzuki Shirane, and Eri Kurono - shunned him completely and absolutely for the past twenty years. His developing relationship with Sara leads this understanding lover to advise him that he must come to terms with this event, triggering a series of meetings with them, that leads to conclusion, understanding, rehabilitation, and continuity. He is a protagonist who seeks to change from merely being "middling, pallid, lacking in color."
Tsukuru travels from the showrooms of Lexus to the pottery rooms of Finland as he tracks down his four former friends and seeks understanding - but curiously, not forgiveness either given or received. As he reflects "they are still stuck to me. Probably more tightly than Sara can ever imagine." The five of them were "a perfect combination...like five fingers". As ever, with Murakami, there is a series of segues (or anecdotal vignettes) inside the novel. These surface in the form of Tsukuru's relationship with Fumiaki Haida. Formed in a swimming pool it moves through the notes of Liszt's suite "Years of Pilgrimage", the music proving the link to both Shirane and to the necessary fantasy that Haida tells of his father when both he and Tsukuru discuss Death. Inside this philosophical fantasy there is a brush with the concept of being a "Soul-Eater" wrapped in the macabre setting of that most potential of settings - a hotel. In the end, both the story and Haida prove as ephemeral as the music of Liszt.
As we track Tsukuru around Japan and Finland, our burgeoning understandings leads to a realization that there is a clear temptation in this novel to delve deeply into the morality of accusing a person falsely of rape, but Murakami wisely sidesteps this minefield. It remains a disturbing, unanswered shadow over the colors of the novel. Murakami ends on a moment, rather than a satisfying conclusion, as is his literary wont, and, as a reader, we are left scrambling to find messages and satisfaction in the hypnotic words scattered before us. Two stand out: "You can hide memories, suppress them, but you can't erase the history that produced them...If nothing else, you need to remember that. You can't erase history, or change it. It would be like destroying yourself." and, "One heart is not connected to another through harmony alone. They are, instead, linked to pain, fragility to fragility. There is no silence without a cry of grief, no forgiveness without bloodshed, no acceptance with a passage through acute loss. That is what lies at the true root of harmony."
Yet...there are more...and time skips serenely past you immerse yourself in the faultless words of a master storyteller.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Some great writing, it leaves me wanting a little more, 9 April 2015
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Cletus (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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There are many elements of this book that are a return to previous work by Murakami and to many it seems this is a return to form. I am unsure of this as I have liked certain asepcts of all his books even the most recent. There is no doubt that Murakami is a stylistic master and his prose is, to me, always a joy to read. I felt that the first hundred pages or so of Colorless Tazaki were a superb example of this.

There are elements of the main character that appear, to me, to flow through many of Murakami’s books too. A kind of indifference to life which can seem cool, can seem cold and also can seem a little sentimental in a strange way, almost as if the coolness is an affectation or some kind of sentimentality. Maybe I say this as so much of Japanese modern culture has a deep vein of sentimentality running through it. I don’t know for sure.

The other characters in the book are quite solid, and feel like they represent authentic parts of modern Japanese life. The life guru, the Lexus dealer, the competent business women, the lost soul, the ex-pat. Maybe one could be forgiven for thinking these characters fit a little too neatly into these boxes to be truly memorable.

To me, my main problem of the last couple of books, 1Q and this one, is that they are not very rich in plot, particularly in their later stages. They feel a little like shaggy dog stories to me. A positive read on this might by that they share something with haiku. They give a glimpse at something rich and beautiful without spelling out exactly what that something is.

Overall, I was left, like Murakami’s characters, not thinking this is a great book, but not not thinking this is a geat book either.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, 29 Aug. 2014
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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When we meet the main character in this novel, Tsukuru Tazaki, he is a thirty six year old man who builds railway stations. He is single, but has a girlfriend, Sara, and, having been left both an apartment in Tokyo and a fair financial legacy from his father, he has no financial worries. However, Tsukuru Tazaki carries a burden with him and it is one that he has shouldered since he was a young man.

While still at school, Tsukuru had a group of very close friends, each of whom had a name related to a colour – all, that is, except him. Two were girls – Kuro and Shiro – and two were boys – Ao and Aka. The five friends shared everything and, although he went away to college, he felt that they were always there for him. Then, one day, when he goes back to visit his home town, the friends suddenly will not take his calls. One finally tells him that they never want to see, or talk, to him again and he is cut adrift. Tsukuru takes the loss hard and feels suicidal for several months. No reason is given him and he does not ask why they no longer wish to be his friend, but he withdraws. What is more, he feels there is nothing special about him; that it was almost right that he was rejected. Even when, later in life, he makes another friend, Haida (again his name is related to a colour), he is not surprised when he loses contact with him.

Now, Tsukuru’s girlfriend, Sara, asks him to discover why his friends rejected him; leading him on a voyage of discovery to find the reason why he was rejected so long ago. Anyone who is familiar with the writing of Haruki Murakami will find much about this which is typical in style – the familiar tinged with the magical and the sense of unreality which underlies the mundane. Throughout the novel, there is a tune which runs through the storyline, connecting him to certain characters, plus stories and dreams which are woven into the plot.

This is a novel which very much mirrors life. It is poignant yet realistic. During this book, Tsukuru Tazaki has to come to terms with himself, with his relationships and with the fact that he cannot recreate his youth. This is a mature novel, with assured writing, from a novelist who writes of confronting the past and facing the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars captivating, 4 Oct. 2014
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markr - See all my reviews
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I am big fan of Murakami, and count some of his books amongst the best I have ever read. That sets a high standard for a new novel to be judged against, but I wasn't disappointed. I could hardly put this down - reading it in two or three sittings, until i had finnished, staying up way too late one night to find out how it ends.

As so often with Murakami this book deals with loneliness, redemption, music, food, love and sex. It is compelling, beautiful and utterly captivating.

One of Murakami's best, in my opinion
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Starts with a bang and goes out with a whimper..., 3 Jan. 2015
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Agree with another reviewer the second half of the book had us rather going around in circles. About two thirds the way through I wondered "was HM in a rush to finish this book?' which I've never felt with any of his other books - certainly not IQ84 (the only book of his I never finished). Given a draft to read my report would have been: Okay HM makings of a good book here if you concentrate less on dreams and put a bit more hard graft into tying up up the loose plot lines.'
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murakami Back on Form, 21 Aug. 2014
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deadbeat (Tiptoe) - See all my reviews
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When I first came across Haruki Murakami's works back in 2003 (first Norwegian Wood, then Wind-up BC, then Hard-boiled Wonderland etc etc) my world was blown apart. At the time, I was into authors like Hermann Hesse and Italo Calvino, so my acquired tastes were, while pretty out there, still not quite prepared for Murakami's counter-culture off-kilter beauty and outsider weirdness. There's something about Murakami in particular, and not just Japanese literature in general, which drew me to him. Though one of the big problems for me was translation. I really wanted to find out for myself if what I was reading was really good, or if it was the translator who was really really good. There are significant differences in style between Birnbaum, Rubin, and Gabriel, and it bothered me. I decided in 2006 to travel to Japan, ostensibly as an English teacher, but with the real agenda of mastering Japanese so I could read Murakami in the original. I returned in 2010 having paid my dues. What I'm trying to say with all this is: Murakami has changed my life quite literally. His writings actually compelled me to travel halfway across the globe and stay there for 4 years. Nowadays, I would not say that Murakami is my favourite author. I've moved on. But there is no way I would ever neglect to read any new stories he might publish. I've been burned in recent years. IQ84 was a disappointment to me, as was Kafka on the Shore. I won't say much about those books, except that I was expecting more. I still enjoyed them, and they are still very highly rated by myself, but compare either of those two books to Wind-up Bird Chronicle or Wild Sheep Chase and they fall short. So, when I came to Colorless Tsukuru I was not expecting to be blown away. I had reached that point in my relationship with Murakami to be able to say that his books no longer got me high. Which is bit sad. Well, anyway, what I want to say here is that I was pleasantly surprised. What we have here is a Murakami book which for 300-odd pages reminded me of why I fell in love with Murakami in the first place. The story itself bears a lot of comparison with Norwegian Wood. I.e. a typical "boku" narrator relating his past, and without all the sci-fi weirdness you find in other Murakami books like Hard-boiled Wonderland or IQ84. There are a fair amount of sexual anecdotes, musical discussions, cookery classes, and fairy tales within fairy tales which seem to be axiomatic to Murakami's world. What I like about this book is it's kind of an updated Norwegian Wood, not written in the 80s about the 60s, but written in the 21st century for the 21st century. The characters are older, and the aphorisms have become wiser. You might say that Norwegian Wood is a tragedy written to address the pain of being in love - whereas Colourless Tsukuru is about the more subtle tragedy of time and how it slowly dulls friendships, dreams, love, everything, and once you've got to a certain age, there's little you can do to go back. Both Norwegian Wood and Colourless Tsukuru feature madness as lynch-pins of their characters and both endings are abrupt. The abrupt ending thing was criticised in NW, and I don't doubt the same will happen here. I like it though. It makes sense to me from an artistic, rhythmic, psychological point of view. So while we might be tempted to say Colourless Tsukuru is structurally not anything new, thematically it's a very pleasant update. More weird beautiful insights for older wiser Murakami fans.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love this, 11 Jan. 2015
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Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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I love Haruki Murakami. His books are always a treat, and usually very different from each other in tone and subject matter, yet without ever losing that essential otherness that makes his books so enjoyable to me.

In this book, Tsukuru Tazaki, a middle aged man who seems to have rather lost his way in life, is urged by the prospect of real love coming into his world, to face up to an incident which happened to him as a young man, and which has shaped his life ever since. The event in question was the severing of his close friendship with four childhood friends that has always remained inexplicable and deeply tragic to Tsukuru up to this point. Tsukuru delves into his past to try and make himself a future that up until now he has never known he even wanted.

It starts in a rather depressing manner, and I wasn't entirely sure that I was going to like this book at first, but it soon gives way to that mysterious something that Murakami has that just hooks me in and makes me want to find out what is happening. His slightly surreal and otherworldly tone always means that I finish his books not sure if I got what I came for, but it has always been a wonderful journey, and this is no exception.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read but not his best work to date, 28 Dec. 2014
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Being a huge fan of Murakami I was bitterly disappointed from this final work. It's a good read that makes you wonder how it will end... And it doesn't! I also found it a bit boring and too narrative at times. The stroke of genius typical of whom has been defined as the modern "Kafka" is definitely missing. Hopefully it will come back soon.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't disappoint, 31 Aug. 2014
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dalek78 (Sheffield, S.Yorks United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Waiting for a new Haruki Murakami book is like waiting for one of your favourite artists to release a new album. You wait a year, finally get it and then it's all over far too soon. I was hoping this was going to be a longer book, but having said that, anything is going to seem short in comparison to the mammoth IQ84.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage follows a more straightforward story, much akin to Norwegian Wood, leaving behind the more bizarre elements such as parallel lives and other quirks found in previous works like Kafka on the Shore or The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

The story follows 36 year-old Tsukuru Tazaki's quest to track down his old high school friends, who ostracised him from their close-knit group sixteen years earlier, for reasons he never understood. In order to move on at this stage in his life, Tazaki realises he needs to find out what happened. Relationships, emotions and the constant reminder of human fragility are at the core of this story, which is also quite brutal in places.

Along the way, we deal with recurring erotic dreams, sex, rape, murder and ultimately, mental health issues; a subject often addressed in Murakami's work. Other familiarities include Cutty Sark whiskey, plenty of meals, classical music and Japanese train stations, which form a large part of the backdrop to this story, as Tazaki's quest takes him from Tokyo to Finland.

As ever, the characters are intimately detailed, sensual deeply thought out – arguably Murakami's greatest strength as a writer is his ability to create fascinating, emotive and absorbing characters, and that's definitely the case here. The English translation clearly keeps the poetry of the writing and vivid visuals and ideas intact.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki was certainly worth the wait, and as always leaves you yearning for more. Once you've been sucked into Murakami's literary world, it's difficult to leave. Plus, you don't really want to.
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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (Audio CD - 12 Aug. 2014)
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