Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

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Overview

An instant #1 New York Times Bestseller, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the remarkable story of a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. Here Haruki Murakami—one of the most revered voices in literature today—gives us a story of love, friend­ship, and heartbreak for the ages.

New York Times and Washington Post notable book, and one of the Financial Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Slate, Mother Jones, The Daily Beast, and BookPage's best books of the year

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804170123
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/05/2015
Series: Vintage International Series
Edition description: Internatio
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 78,171
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: HL800L (what's this?)

About the Author

Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages. The most recent of his many international honors is the Jerusalem Prize, whose previous recipients include J. M. Coetzee, Milan Kundera, and V. S. Naipaul. Translated by Philip Gabriel.

Hometown:

Tokyo, Japan

Date of Birth:

January 12, 1949

Place of Birth:

Kyoto, Japan

Education:

Waseda University, 1973

Read an Excerpt

From July of his sophomore year in college until the following January, all Tsukuru Tazaki could think about was dying. He turned twenty during this time, but this special watershed—becoming an adult—meant nothing. Taking his own life seemed the most natural solution, and even now he couldn’t say why he hadn’t taken this final step. Crossing that threshold between life and death would have been easier than swallowing down a slick, raw egg.
(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage"
by .
Copyright © 2015 Haruki Murakami.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

The introduction, author biography, discussion questions, and suggested reading that follow are designed to enhance your group’s discussion of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, the eagerly anticipated new novel by Haruki Murakami.

1. What is the significance of the name of the novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage? Why is Tsukuru branded “colorless”? Would you say that this an accurate description of him? Is this how Tsukuru sees himself or is it how he is seen by others? What kind of pilgrimage does Tsukuru embark upon and how does he change as a result of this pilgrimage? What causes these changes?

2. Why does Tsukuru wait so many years before attempting to find out why he was banished from the group? How does he handle the deep depression he feels as a result of this rejection and how is he changed by this period of suffering? Is Tsukuru the only character who suffers in this way? If not, who else suffers at what is the cause? Do you believe that their distress could have been avoided? If so, how?

3. Do you consider Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki a realistic work of fiction? Why or why not? What fantastical or surreal elements does Murakami employ in the novel and what purpose do they serve? What do these elements reveal that strictly realistic elements might not? Kuro says, “I do think that sometimes a certain kind of dream can be even stronger than reality” (310). In considering genre, do you believe that this is true?

4. Tsukuru reveals that his father chose his name, which means “to make things.” Is this an apt name for Tsukuru? Why or why not? How does Tsukuru’s understanding of his own name affect the way that he sees himself? Where else in the story does the author address making things? Are they portrayed as positive or useful activities?

5. Why is Tsukuru’s friendship with Haida so important? What is the outcome of this relationship? How does the relationship ultimately affect Tsukuru’s perception of himself? Does it alter Tsukuru’s response to the rejection he was subjected to years earlier in any way?

6. Why does Haida share with Tsukuru the story about his father and the strange piano player who speaks of death? What might this teach us about the purpose of storytelling? How does Tsukuru react to this story? Is he persuaded by Haida’s tale? What does the story teach us about belief and the power of persuasion?

7. Sara says that we live in an age where “we’re surrounded by an enormous amount of information about other people. If you feel like it, you can easily gather than information about them. Having said that, we still hardly know anything about people” (148). Do the characters in the story know each other very well? Do you believe that technology in today’s world has helped or hindered us in knowing each other better?

8. When Tsukuru finally sees three of his friends again, how have each of them changed? How do they react to seeing one another after all this time? Are their reactions strange and unexpected or predictable? What unexpected changes have taken place over the years, and why are they surprising to Tsukuru? Has anything remained consistent?

9. When Tsukuru visits the pizzeria in Finland, how does he react after realizing he is the only one there who is alone? How is this different from his usual response to isolation throughout the story? Discuss what this might indicate about the role that setting plays in determining Tsukuru’s emotional state.

10. Does Tsukuru’s self-image and understanding of his role within the group align with how they saw Tsukuru and perceived his role in their group? If not, what causes differences in their perceptions? Do Tsukuru’s thoughts about his rejection from the group align with his friends’ understanding of why he was banished? How did Tsukuru’s banishment affect the other members of the group?

11. Why do Tsukuru and Kuro say that they may be partly responsible for Shiro’s murder? Do you believe that the group did the right thing by protecting Shiro? Why or why not?

12. The Franz Liszt song “Le mal du pays” is a recurring motif in the novel. Shiro plays the song on the piano; Haida leaves a recording of it behind; Tsukuru listens to it again and again; Kuro also has a recording. Why might the author have chosen to include this song in particular in the story? What effect does its repetition have on the reader—and the characters in the novel?

13. Sara tells Tsukuru: “You can hide memories, but you can’t erase the history that produced them” (44). What does she mean by this? Do you agree with her statement?

14. Kuro says that she believes an evil spirit had inhabited Shiro, and as Tsukuru is leaving her home, Kuro tells him not to let the bad elves get him. Elsewhere in the story, the piano player asks Haida’s father whether he believes in a devil. Does the novel seem to indicate whether there is such a thing as evil—existing apart from mankind, or is darkness characterized as an innate part of man’s psyche?

15. While visiting Kuro, Tsukuru comes to the realization “One heart is not connected to another through harmony alone. They are, instead, linked deeply through their wounds” (322). This, he says, “is what lies at the root of true harmony.” What does he mean by this? Do you agree with his statement?

16. Why does Tsukuru seem to be so interested in railroad stations? How does his interest in these stations affect his relationship with his high school friends? Later in his life, how does this interest affect his understanding of friendship and relationships? The author revisits Tsukuru’s interest in railroad stations at the end of the book and refers to the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subways in 1995 great disaster of 3/11 in Japan. Why do you think that Murakami makes mention of this incident? Does this reference change your interpretation of the story?

17. Is Tsukuru’s decision with respect to Sara at the end of the story indicative of some kind of personal progress? What is significant about his gesture? How has Tsukuru changed by the story’s end? Do you believe that the final scene provides sufficient resolution of the issues raised at the start of the story? Does it matter that readers are not ultimately privy to Sara’s response to Tsukuru’s gesture?

18. Tsukuru wishes that he had told Kuro, “Not everything was lost in the flow of time” (385). What does he believe was preserved although time has gone by? What did the members of the group ultimately gain through their friendship despite their split?

19. How does Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki compare to Haruki Murakami’s earlier novels? What themes do the works share? What elements of Murakami’s latest novel are different or unexpected?

Customer Reviews

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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage: A novel 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Haruki Murakami's book IQ84, and couldn't wait to read this new book Colorless Tsukuri, but found it interesting with a less than satisfactory ending. Some people may like an ending that is vague, so it can be Imagined, but I found it to be an anticlimax. Mr. Murakami is a very creative author and describes his characters and settings with great detail, non of which is repetitive and some of his observations of mundane daily human life are thought provoking. I gave it a 5/5 as it was well written, but just not the mind gripping tale I had hoped it would be. His IQ84 would be a 10/5 in comparison.
yisits More than 1 year ago
If you've liked Murakami's other books you probably will like this one. If you like books that have straightforward plots and neat endings then you probably won't like this one. There are some pretty obvious cliches in the beginning but if you pass over them you enjoy the story.
Bibsi More than 1 year ago
Is the sometimes stunted writing intentional or the result of poor translation? Does it matter? I can't answer the first; but the second is no! There is so much to appreciate, so much beautiful prose,so many astute but mystical observations about life, so much of Murakami's surrealistic metaphors, all wrapped in his unresolved plot, unsurpassed simplicity and marvelous structure that the book adds up to a wonder. Caution: Those who don't want to ponder the symbolism, who prefer neatly tied up conclusions, and who want an uncomplicated protagonist - - - Stay Away.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'll give this book three stars. It's a good book in its own right, but for Mr. Murakami, I was a bit disappointed. There was a lot of redundancy and the ending seemed rushed. It reads like a short story that was unnecessarily stretched and pulled into 240 page novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The plot was as lackluster as the main character. This immature character was no anyone I would want to spend time with. The problem character development never matured either.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Haruki Murakami adjusted the pace of the main character Tourkuri ever so slightly throughout the book but even with this subtle pace the book kept your interest & intrigued me until the very end.
DMWood More than 1 year ago
Murakami is a master of metaphor with deep meanings behind names, locations, actions, food, music, and every other aspect of his stories. While some have criticized this book as being too long, I believe the length does justice to the story being told. If it were shorter, the flavor or Tazaki, his four friends, and his girlfriend would be lost.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this novel except for the ending. ~*~LEB~*~
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I've read by this author. I cannot think of a reason to read others. Writing is contrived, lots more questions than answers, and This is my first experience Contrived plot, trite language, unnecessary, graphic descriptions--slogged through hoping to arrive at answers but the sudden ending provided none. Need I say more. What a disappointment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting story but lame ending
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Super depressing with no real resolution or direction , very disappointing .
Nerek More than 1 year ago
I absolutely adore this book! I could not put it down, on the last couple of pages I did not want to finish it so I started reading slower.
Qalamkar More than 1 year ago
Very interesting as usual but when the book finished I felt unsatisfied. I wanted more; its almost like waiting for the dessert that never came.
nephetus More than 1 year ago
I have come to know Murakami for his engaging stories, tranquil pace and open ended stories. This book is no different. The protagonist is unable to able to view himself as others see him and as he traces back his past history with former friends, he becomes more and more enlightened. It is a enjoyable story of a man finding himself and what he wants, but as always there is room for interpretation at the end. I always recommend reading this book in a group so these type of events can be discussed.
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MeowMA More than 1 year ago
I found the concepts in Murakami's book unusual and interesting, but it made for slow reading. I'm reading it as part of a book club and I'm anxious to hear what pthers say.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I at first was not sure what to expect when I got this book. I had read a great review on it from one of my favorite Time magazine writers, so I trusted his judgment, and I am happy to say that I truly enjoyed this book. Murakami's voice as an author is incredible, and the way he lets the reader feel as though he/she is on a journey with the main character is amazing. I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever questioned a relationship with friends, family, or anyone in his/her life or who has forgotten about something from their past that made them who they are.
KathyS More than 1 year ago
Murakami has to be one of my favorite writers and storytellers of all time, but I'm only giving this particular book three stars; leaving me saddened, in my own personal feelings during my reading; saddened for the main character's feelings; and saddened in the overall writing of this story. The boredom I continually felt, fought with my knowledge of my wanting to find something worth salvaging from this story.  There were fits and spurts of words of wisdom, but confused with sexual meaningless.  I felt as if I were in the midst of a Murakami personal journal, not good, not bad, just lacklusterly there and resigned.  I think “lackluster” pretty much covers it in a word.  Yes, writers can leave endings to the reader’s own imagination, but my imagination was split right down the middle, almost hoping Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki would simply die in the end from one of his “shooting pains to the heart”  Yes, again, this main character depressed me to that point.....instead he fades away...into his colorless unconscious.  Was there hope in the end?  Only Murakami can answer that.....  
Soylentsolvent More than 1 year ago
If you don't like books with cliff hangers, this is not the book for you. However, if you do then, read on. The writing itself was great, I actually liked the prose.
mtcroberts More than 1 year ago
I would suggest that readers listen to Years of Pilgrimage on YouTube. I wish i had listened to it as a read the book.