Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Tsukuru Tazaki has always thought of himself as somewhat bland. In high school, each of his four best friends excelled naturally in some way or had a sparkling personality. In comparison, Tsukuru felt his quiet manner and dedication to his studies made him an odd man out, although his friends accepted him gladly into their "harmonious community." The five of them believed their bond would never change, even after Tsukuru went to university in Tokyo while the other four remained in their hometown of Nagoya. However, during their sophomore year in college, all four of his friends expressed a firm, almost angry desire to cut all ties with Tsukuru without giving any explanation.

Now a 36-year-old man, Tsukuru feels ready to commit to a stable relationship. However, when his sophisticated girlfriend learns of his long-ago expulsion from his social circle and how few friendships he has had since, she insists he solve the mystery of this earlier rejection before their romance can move forward. One by one, Tsukuru speaks with his former friends, and although they give him some answers, he learns that the truth can be subjective.

Neither Haruki Murakami's narrative nor his protagonist proves colorless. As Tsukuru meets each of his old friends in turn, he begins to learn his true worth. Murakami (1Q84) makes customary digressions through flashbacks to introduce a flare of the mystical, a sliver of philosophy, placed as deliberately as a painter's brushstrokes. By turns otherworldly and grounded in the essence of human experience, Murakami's look at becoming who you already are feels both new and timelessly essential. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

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