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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage

Cover of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage

A novel

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the long-awaited new novel—a book that sold more than a million copies the first week it went on sale in Japan—from the award-winning, internationally best-selling author Haruki Murakami.
Here he gives us the remarkable story of Tsukuru Tazaki, a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. It is a story of love, friendship, and heartbreak for the ages.
Années de pèlerinage (Years of Pilgrimage) - "Le mal du pays" by Franz Liszt, performed by Peter Mendelsund. Recorded by Charles Myers Recording Studio, Manhattan School of Music, The Gordon K. and Harriet Greenfield Hall. Kevin Boutote, Recording Engineer.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the long-awaited new novel—a book that sold more than a million copies the first week it went on sale in Japan—from the award-winning, internationally best-selling author Haruki Murakami.
Here he gives us the remarkable story of Tsukuru Tazaki, a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. It is a story of love, friendship, and heartbreak for the ages.
Années de pèlerinage (Years of Pilgrimage) - "Le mal du pays" by Franz Liszt, performed by Peter Mendelsund. Recorded by Charles Myers Recording Studio, Manhattan School of Music, The Gordon K. and Harriet Greenfield Hall. Kevin Boutote, Recording Engineer.

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  • From the book

    From July of his sophomore year in college until the following January, all Tsukuru Tazaki could think about was dying. He turned twenty during this time, but this special watershed--becoming an adult--meant nothing. Taking his own life seemed the most natural solution, and even now he couldn't say why he hadn't taken this final step. Crossing that threshold between life and death would have been easier than swallowing down a slick, raw egg.

    Perhaps he didn't commit suicide then because he couldn't conceive of a method that fit the pure and intense feelings he had toward death. But method was beside the point. If there had been a door within reach that led straight to death, he wouldn't have hesitated to push it open, without a second thought, as if it were just a part of ordinary life. For better or for worse, though, there was no such door nearby.


    I really should have died then, Tsukuru often told himself. Then this world, the one in the here and now, wouldn't exist. It was a captivating, bewitching thought. The present world wouldn't exist, and reality would no longer be real. As far as this world was concerned, he would simply no longer exist--just as this world would no longer exist for him.

    At the same time, Tsukuru couldn't fathom why he had reached this point, where he was teetering over the precipice. There was an actual event that had led him to this place--this he knew all too well--but why should death have such a hold over him, enveloping him in its embrace for nearly half a year? Envelop--the word expressed it precisely. Like Jonah in the belly of the whale, Tsukuru had fallen into the bowels of death, one untold day after another, lost in a dark, stagnant void.

    It was as if he were sleepwalking through life, as if he had already died but not yet noticed it. When the sun rose, so would Tsukuru--he'd brush his teeth, throw on whatever clothes were at hand, ride the train to college, and take notes in class. Like a person in a storm desperately grasping at a lamppost, he clung to this daily routine. He only spoke to people when necessary, and after school, he would return to his solitary apartment, sit on the floor, lean back against the wall, and ponder death and the failures of his life. Before him lay a huge, dark abyss that ran straight through to the earth's core. All he could see was a thick cloud of nothingness swirling around him; all he could hear was a profound silence squeezing his eardrums.

    When he wasn't thinking about death, his mind was blank. It wasn't hard to keep from thinking. He didn't read any newspapers, didn't listen to music, and had no sexual desire to speak of. Events occurring in the outside world were, to him, inconsequential. When he grew tired of his room, he wandered aimlessly around the neighborhood or went to the station, where he sat on a bench and watched the trains arriving and departing, over and over again.

    He took a shower every morning, shampooed his hair well, and did the laundry twice a week. Cleanliness was another one of his pillars: laundry, bathing, and teeth brushing. He barely noticed what he ate. He had lunch at the college cafeteria, but other than that, he hardly consumed a decent meal. When he felt hungry he stopped by the local supermarket and bought an apple or some vegetables. Sometimes he ate plain bread, washing it down with milk straight from the carton. When it was time to sleep, he'd gulp down a glass of whiskey as if it were a dose of medicine. Luckily he wasn't much of a drinker, and a small dose of alcohol was all it took to send him off to sleep. He never dreamed. But even if he had dreamed, even if dreamlike images arose from the edges of his...

About the Author-
  • Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages, and the most recent of his many international honors is the Jerusalem Prize, whose previous recipients include J. M. Coetzee, Milan Kundera, and V. S. Naipaul.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Bruce Locke's narration begins with a detached tone and deliberate pace as Murakami's title character considers suicide upon finding himself exiled from his closest group of friends. In the same way that Tsukuru remains emotionally frozen throughout the decades that follow this traumatic break, Locke's tone remains consistent and even. While listeners may find Locke's distance frustrating, it's perfectly appropriate to the character. But all the more rewarding in their subtle contrast and novelty are the moments of change, adaptation, and self-reflection that come later as Tsukuru uncovers important details from his past. Locke's narration is at once self-conscious and detached as he captures the flawed Tsukuru Tazaki. E.M.C.
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 28, 2014
    Murakami’s (1Q84) latest novel, which sold more than a million copies during its first week on sale in Japan, is a return to the mood and subject matter of the acclaimed writer’s earlier work. Living a simple, quotidian life as a train station engineer, Tsukuru is compelled to reexamine his past after a girlfriend suggests he reconnect with a group of friends from high school. A tight-knit fivesome for years, the group suddenly alienated Tsukuru under mysterious circumstances when he was in college. For months after the break, not knowing what had gone wrong, he became obsessed with death and slowly lost his sense of self: “I’ve always seen myself as an empty person, lacking color and identity. Maybe that was my role in the group. To be empty.” Feeling his life will only progress if he can tie up those emotional loose ends, Tsukuru journeys through Japan and into Europe to meet with the members of the group and unravel what really happened 16 years before. The result is a vintage Murakami struggle of coming to terms with buried emotions and missed opportunities, in which intentions and pent up desires can seemingly transcend time and space to bring both solace and desolation.

  • Nathaniel Rich, The Atlantic "Murakami is a charming travel companion. Though we know where we're going, and must endure plenty of bumps in the road, the trip is rarely boring, his company is amiable, and we can rest assured that he will take us to strange places we've never been before, except perhaps in dreams. . . . [In Colorless Tsukuru] there is only a single moon in the Tokyo sky. Yet we're undeniably in Murakamiland. Nobody else could have written this novel, or dared to try. Then again, given the remarkable continuity of his fiction, nearly every Murakami novel feels like a new volume of the same meganovel, a vast saga that is now approaching 7,000 pages in length. . . . In Murakamiland, death means merely traveling across a 'threshold' between reality and some other world. It is not necessarily the end. In fact, as we soon learn, Tsukuru's obsession with death is only the beginning. . . . The mesmeric pull of Murakami's fiction lies in this tension between the narrator's perfectly ordinary existence and this shadow world, which might reside in our subconscious or even in an alternate universe, where we are free to enact our darkest, most violent, most perverse fantasies. . . . [He] writes genre fiction--formulaic, conventional, with an emphasis on plot. But it is a genre that he has invented himself, drawing elements from fantasy, noir, horror, sci-fi, and the genre we call 'literary fiction.' . . . The tone [in this new novel] is wistful, mysterious, winsome, disturbing, seductive. It is full of gorgeous, incongruous imagery. . . . Murakami is balletic, evoking metaphysical realms and a fine sense of the grotesque."
  • Patti Smith, The New York Times Book Review (cover review) "A devotional anticipation is generated by the announcement of a new Haruki Murakami book. Readers wait for his work the way past generations lined up at record stores for new albums by the Beatles or Bob Dylan. There is a happily frenzied collective expectancy--the effect of cultural voice, the Murakami effect. . . . [Colorless Tsukuru] is a book for both the new and experienced reader. . . . The book reveals another side of Murakami, one not so easy to pin down. Incurably restive, ambiguous and valiantly struggling toward a new level of maturation. A shedding of Murakami skin. It is not 'Blonde on Blonde,' it is 'Blood on the Tracks.' . . . [The book's] realism is tinged with the parallel worlds of 1Q84, particularly through dreams. The novel contains a fragility that can be found in Kafka on the Shore, with its infinite regard for music. Hardly a soul writes of the listening and playing of music with such insight and tenderness."
  • Marie Arana, The Washington Post "[A] remarkable novel [that] takes us on a spellbinding descent through the rings of hell in Tsukuru Tazaki's young life. . . . A virtual symphony of literary and musical referents. Murakami's wizardry lies in his ability to pack all that cultural and spiritual resonance into a book that is as tightly wound as a Dashiell Hammett mystery. . . . Murakami can herd the troubles of a very large world and still mind a few precious details. He may be taking us deeper and deeper into a fractured modernity and its uneasy inhabitants, but he is ever alert to minds and hearts, to what it is, precisely, that they feel and see, and to humanity's abiding and indomitable spirit. . . . A deeply affecting novel, not only for the dark nooks and crannies it explores, but for the magic that seeps into its characters' subconsciouses, for the lengths to which they will go to protect or damage one another, for the brilliant characterizations it delivers along the way. . . . A page-turner with intervals of lapidary prose and dazzling human comprehension."
  • Meg Wolitzer, NPR "Intoxicating. . . . It's hard to think of another writer who is as popular, as strange, and as lionized as Haruki Murakami is. . . . At first glance, you might think that Murakami has no overlap with that other writer whose work gets people lining up at midnight, J.K. Rowling. And yet they do have something in common. Both of them are comfortable cr
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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage
A novel
Haruki Murakami
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