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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage


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Tsukuru Tazaki was ostracised by his four (only) closest friends. He never knew why. Now he tries to find out. Sounds straightforward...


Set in the “real” world, with any “magical realism” confined to dreams or third-party tales, there is a real sadness to the story.


Tsukuru thinks he is a shallow, unprepossessing person when in fact he has a depth that he hasn’t recognised. He is a likeable person and I found myself involved with his story right from the start.


A bit about the story follows. It’s not really a spoiler but just in case...

The back story involves five school friends who do everything together until Tsukuru moves to Tokyo to attend University there. His four friends remain in their home city. Tsukuru sees his friends every holiday and writes to them during the term. Then on one holiday the four break off all contact with Tsukuru and ask him not to try to talk to them again.

Some years later and Tsukuru is still affected by this and, at his girlfriend’s urging, he attempts to find out why his friends treated him this way.


The story is very moving and nicely resolved. Although I didn’t understand the significance of the dreams, etc. The ending was...

Well we don’t get to find out what happens next and

I can’t decide how I feel about that.


The book apparently started life as a short story and kept growing and I think this is reflected in the writing style which is direct and succinct. My only criticism, and it’s a small one, is that the translation (which is excellent) has not been changed to British English for the UK edition.

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  • 1 year later...

I finished this book on Friday and really enjoyed it.  In fact, the friend who recommended it and I had such an enthusiastic discussion of the book while we were being ubered to dinner on Friday that both our friend who was with us AND the uber driver asked for the title of the book so they could read it.


Our enthusiastic discussion centered on what we thought happened right after the book was over.  The fact that it's not part of the book felt like a short story ending and so I'm not surprised that it started life as a short story.  

My friend thought that Sara would end up deciding to be with Tsukuru, but that she would eventually tire of his passivity and leave him.  I finally decided that he was not so much passive as resigned.  The difference is that Tsukuru will do things to engage with another person, but if the person leaves him, he accepts it rather than fighting it.  He did, with Sara's urging, go visit the 3 friends who rejected him so painfully 16 years before, even thought one of those visits required a trip to Finland (!).  And he did several times call Sara and tell her that he loved her and wanted to have a life with her.  But if she rejected him, he would accept it.  He thought he would never love again if that happened, but he probably would.  But like my friend, I don't think that will happen.


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