Book review: Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

It's supposed to be "colorless" but I cannot bring myself to type it without the U. I'm the annoying person who shouted "Has anyone seen a U?" when Disneyworld wrote "honor" in the parade. 

As you can probably imagine, I was stupidly excited about the release of this book. I was actually in America when it was released so I had to wait an extra couple of weeks before I could get my hands on it. 

Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the tale of Tsukuru Tazaki, unsurprisingly. During his time at high school, he has four friends, all of whom have a colour in their names. Tsukuru, meanwhile, sees himself as colourless. His name may mean "build", but, unlike his friends, he has no colour references. After moving from his hometown Nagoya to Tokyo, his friendship group suddenly cut him off and ask never to speak to him again. With no idea what he has done to upset him, he merely accepts their disdain and continues through life without them. Sixteen years later, his new girlfriend encourages him to contact his old friends, which leads him on a journey to discovering the truth behind his exile.
Unlike most of Murakami's novels, this is almost devoid of surreal elements. Aside from the odd coincidence, and strange dreams that are perhaps not entirely subconscious, the novel is a straight story of a man seeking the truth.

In terms of translation, this time it has been entrusted upon Philip Gabriel who I find has a much more enjoyable style than Jay Rubin, the other frequently-used translator. Gabriel does a good job at explaining some of the nuances that may be lost on an English-speaking translator, such as the difference between formal and informal pronouns, and the significance of people's names. 
Ultimately, however, there was just nothing in this book that set it apart from the other Murakami novels I've read. It had all the elements I've come to expect, such as a musically-influenced backing track, a carefully-chosen selection of both eastern and western culture, and the dreamlike quality of the interactions between characters. In the end, however, I just wasn't blown away. I didn't particularly identify with Tsukuru or his situation. For me, Murakami's strength is in making me feel as though he's writing about me, and this time it just didn't happen. 

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