Book review: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years of Pilgrimage

Colorless TsukuruI was thrilled to bits when I received Haruki Murakami’s latest book from a friend since it has been almost three years when he released his 1Q84 and it has been highly anticipated by legions of the Japanese author’s fans, including myself. A huge thank you to you know who you are for gifting me with one of the most thoughtful gifts I have received in a long while.

Murakami’s newest offering is as expected oozing with his typical writing style and themes – a lonely man in his mid-thirties feeling displaced in a big city while harboring a deep sense of solitude.

Before jumping the gun, I would like to rave about the gorgeous design for the hardcover version published by Alfred A. Knopf of “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years of Pilgrimage”. The dust jacket features five cutout panels, four filled with colors and the last transparent to reveal the complex train lines in Tokyo underneath. When viewed from a distant, the cover forms the shape of a deconstructed left hand, a pictorial description tying in closely with the author’s writing.

“You know in a sense we were a perfect combination, the five of us. Like five fingers,” Ao raised his right hand and spread his thick fingers. “I still think that. The five of us all naturally made up for what was lacking in the others, and totally shared our better qualities.” Continue reading

Updates and a bit of Murakami

Sorry folks for the lack of book review this week because I have been struck by this mega flu bug that has left me crippled in bed for many days. I am currently still recovering from the illness and have been unable to keep up with the comments left by many kind readers, so do give me some time to play catch up when I am feeling much better.

But last week, I was pretty excited to learn that the English translation of Haruki Murakami’s latest book “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Year of Pilgrimage” has finally hit the stores! I cannot wait to read this bestseller, with a million copies flying off the shelves a month after its release in Japan. The hardest part though is to resist perusing all the online reviews before actually reading it myself except for THIS article from The Atlantic that hits spot on with regards to the Murakami appeal in spite of his formulaic approach to his novels.

Murakami 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 other ingredient, which we tend to think of as antithetical to genre fiction, is a hostility to tidy resolution.

Ending off with this post with a lovely Murakami bingo game that succinctly summarizes the typical recurrent themes found in most Murakami books. This drawn by LA-based comic artist Hunter Nesbitt and a poster of this can be bought HERE.

Book review: Norwegian Wood

Hakone, JapanWhen results for the 2013 Nobel Prize for literature was announced last Friday, I was disappointed to learn that Haruki Murakami did not win it (again) in spite of being the hot favorite in the run up to the competition (again!). A big congratulation to Alice Munro for bagging the prestigious award this year, though I am certainly still hoping that my all-time favorite Japanese author would one day win a Nobel.

I had recently finished “Norwegian Wood,” one of the early Murakami books that became popular in Japan, following the narrator Toru Watanabe and his nostalgic remembrance of his college life in Tokyo. In spite of the lack of distinct crescendos, I found that the plot slowly grew on me with in a quiet and overwhelmingly sad way through Toru’s quaint, nostalgic memories.
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Haruki Murakami’s new release: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
In case if you have not heard, Haruki Murakami is out with his new book ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.’ This is Murakami’s first long novel in the past three years since last releasing his widely acclaimed book ‘1Q84,’ which I absolutely adore as have reviewed in previous entries.

As a self-professed Murakami fan who went on my little ‘Murakami literary pilgrimage’ when I went to Tokyo (Click here for pictures), this is certainly one of the most exciting literary news I have heard in awhile.

And I know I am not in this alone. There was much hype surrounding the book prior to its release on April 12, with Asahi Shimbun reporting that a major Japanese publishing house has prepared 500 000 copies “in anticipation of high demand for Haruki Murakami’s latest novel, breaking the record of any first printing by the publisher.”

I remembered when I last read 1Q84, I was literally bringing it everywhere even when walking on the street or going to the toilet because the pseudo sci-fi romantic novel was brilliant at digging into deeper existential questions and questioning our self-consciousness. With the new 370-page book, the theme explored themes of loss and survival, casting the typical Murakami protagonist – a middle-aged loner and train geek Tsukuru Tazaki.

But alas, non-Japanese speaking fans like myself would have to contend with waiting for the English translation as there is still no word when it would be made available. But based on the last book’s experience, it might just be under a year before they will hit the shelves.

Let the (painful) wait begin.

HERE for my 1Q84 review and HERE for my Murakami literary tour in Tokyo)

The Murakami literary trail [PICS]

As a Haruki Murakami fan, my recent trip to Tokyo became a semi-pilgrimage literary tour dedicated to the popular Japanese author.

I was in part inspired by a New York Times article by Sam Anderson who visited some key places from Murakami’s life and work.

This post documents the places I visited in Tokyo that have appeared in Murakami’s works.

It was crazy to relieve the experience of being in a certain location that was mentioned in a fiction because it felt like walking into the book’s storyline. Continue reading