Haruki Murakami’s latest and most eagerly anticipated offering “Colorless Tsuruku Tazaki and His Years Of Piligrimage”, is a hollow disappointment, a meek concoction of reluctant whorls and a flawed attempt at replicating expected magic.
Writing or rather, struggling in a painstakingly forced “Murakami-esque” style, one of the most revered and adored writers of our times, constructs layer upon layer of the paradoxical grotesque and the gentle. But instead of the usual sizzling outcome that has enthralled and enraptured millions of fans across the globe, the end analysis is a forgettable fizzle, a mere tendril of a tale that wafts around painfully before invariably vanishing into gentle oblivion.
Tsukuru’s story of colours is alas bereft of all elements of colour and also is devoid of substance – substance which otherwise constitutes the most glittering and prominent jewel in the repository of Murakami’s collection of gem stones. Tsukuru Tazaki along with four of his friends forms a unique ‘harmony’, a collection of individuals the sum total of which is greater than the clichéd components constituting the whole. The last names of each of Tsukuru’s friends symbolize a particular colour: Kei Akamatsu (Red); Yoshio Oumi (Blue); Yuzuki Shirane (White) and Eri Kurono (Black). follows This close camaraderie and sworn allegiance is shattered without warning when Tsukuru is abandoned by the rest in a manner, abrupt and sudden.
What follows is not only sixteen agonizing years of untold suffering for Tsukuru, but also an inexplicable disappointment for the reader. Weaving a weak and unfulfilling plot involving metaphysical machinations and carnal interludes (albeit in dream states), Murakami stumbles along with Tsukuru as the latter unravels the truth behind his unsympathetic rejection and ostracizing. Vestigial fingers, peddlers of token ‘exchanges’ of death; interminably long descriptions of Japanese Railway stations and techniques of swimming all contrive to confound and confuse. However the book is not completely denied of the shades of Murakami magic. In isolated phases, the author teases and flatters the reader with some mesmerizing skills before indulging in deception.
The initial half of the story involving the meeting of the five friends, merging of their minds and marriage of their sentiments makes for some astounding reading. Tsukuru’s eventful trip to Finland to meet Eri is embedded within the confines of passages that can only be termed electrifying.
When the typical ventures into the realms of the atypical the results are usually mixed. However when the atypical forces itself to metamorphose into the typical, the consequences as exemplified in no small measure by “Colorless Tsuruku Tazaki and His Years Of Piligrimage”, are just what they unavoidably are – Calamitous!