'Colorless Tzukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage' By Haruki Murakami

“One heart is not connected to another through harmony alone. They are, instead, linked deeply through their wounds. Pain linked to pain, fragility to fragility. There is no silence without a cry of grief, no forgiveness without bloodshed, no acceptance without a passage through acute loss. That is what lies at the root of true harmony.”

-Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tzukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Haruki Murakami is a Japanese writer whose novels and short stories have been translated and admired all over the world. Murakami’s works are a true testament to the genre of Magic Realism wherein seemingly unnatural things and incidents happens in the natural world. His stories revolve around inner conflicts, the dilemmas of human existence and a spectrum of psychological topics that makes us question the working of the world. His most notable works include Norwegian Wood, Sputnik Sweetheart, Kafka on the Shore etc. Through this unique method of narration, Murakami explores the warped realities of the human world.

His Novel Colorless Tzukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage was written and published in the year 2013. It sold over a million copies in just a month and is a bestseller. It is a realist bildungsroman that follows the life of a railroad engineer in Tokyo named Tsukuru Tazaki. Bildungsroman novels include the development of the protagonist’s mind and character in the passage from childhood through varied experiences- and often through spiritual crisis- into maturity; this process usually involves recognition of one’s identity and role in the world. During his school days, he becomes best friends with four people; two boys named Akamatsu (Red) and Oumi (Blue) and two girls called Shirane (White) and Kurono (Black). Tsukuru had always felt left out from his gang of friends for all of their names included a colour while he always remained colourless. Despite that, he considered them his good friends. But one day, he finds to his utter surprise that all his friends have suddenly cut ties with him without any explanations. Highly depressed and shocked, Tsukuru is traumatised by this turn of events.

“As we go through life we gradually discover who we are, but the more we discover, the more we lose ourselves.”

-Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tzukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

 Later on in college, Tsukuru moves to another city and slowly recovers himself from the brink of suicide. He befriends a boy named Haida who narrates a peculiar story of a travelling man and his encounter with a particular kind of music. But before the start of the next semester, Haida leaves him as well. Now resigned to the conclusion that he was born to be lonely, Tsukuru is left with a fear of building close relationships.

Years later, Tsukuru nurtures his interests in trains and ends up being a railroad engineer. His girlfriend Sara advices him to embrace the past than run away from them, for she gives an ultimatum that unless he decides to confront his past, their relationship would never work out. Determined, he takes on a journey to find his lost friends and mend their relationships to work towards a healed future. Like all other Murakami books, this one retains a special place for music as well. In this novel, Lizst’s classical piano solo ‘Years of Pilgrimage’ serves as a recurring symbol that adds charm to the magic realist plotline.

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