Review: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, by Haruki Murakami

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami is one of the few audiobooks I’ve listened to where I didn’t keep getting distracted and have to skip back to re-listen to parts. The story unfolds slowly, but there’s something so hypnotizing about it… I couldn’t stop listening. Everything is interesting and meaningful, because you never know when some piece to the puzzle or little insight about humanity is going to float by.

It’s essentially a mystery story (no fantasy or surreal elements in this one!), revealed through a series of conversations between old friends. Haruki Murakami is a master of translating humanity onto the page, and you get that feeling you’re just listening in on real-life people, eavesdropping on their secrets and hearing their innermost fears, weird ideas and unflattering fantasies. His characters are just as confused and flawed as a real-life people.

The mystery of this novel centres around Tsukuru Tazaki and why, when he was away at university many years ago, his four very close friends suddenly cut him out of their lives and refused to ever speak to him again. Although he wishes he could understand what happened, like many people he’s also very afraid of finding out why he was rejected, and so he trains himself to ignore it and just carry on with his life. But it’s always there and means he never quite feels he’s good enough for any kinds of friendship. Then one day he meets someone new, and she gives him the courage to go back and explore his past to discover what happened.

I noticed a lot of other reviewers use water metaphors when talking about this book, and that’s exactly how the storytelling feels, liquid and tranquil. The story just washes over you… it’s almost meditative. I thought the narrator Bruce Locke was perfect for the book: his voice acting for the different characters was subtle and unobtrusive. I could have kept listening forever. I was sad to see the audiobook timer ticking down to its last chapter…. Really a beautiful piece of writing and a beautiful reading. One of the nicest audiobook experiences I’ve had.

*I received a review copy of this novel from SFF Audio in exchange for an honest review.

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