Marcel Winatschek

Every Person Has Their Own Color

Every Person Has Their Own Color

When Tsukuru Tazaki thinks back to his youth in Nagoya, he feels torn between deep gratitude and dark sadness. Today, the 36-year-old leads a bleak existence in Tokyo, he builds train stations, and he is lonely. His story isn’t glamorous or exciting. But no life really is.

For a long time, Tsukuru Tazaki was close to death, of his own accord. Only the growing longing for his new acquaintance Sara lets him live on, the conversations and the hope for soon sexual intercourse, his tragic past always at the back of his neck.

If you read Haruki Murakami’s calm and detailed words, you must do so while enjoying a cup of green tea, in daylight, or a glass of expensive whiskey, at night. There is no other way. It was the same with his earlier works Norwegian Wood, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and 1Q84.

Tsukuru held no grudge against his four best friends, who had disowned him for no reason 16 years ago. He accepted his fate without a word, drowned his sorrows, and tried love but failed without much fuss. But he wonders how they are doing today. The gentle Shiro, the lively Kuro. The strong Ao and the clever Aka. He can still remember his last phone call with them clearly. He was asked not to contact them again. Never again.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the tale of a man who must open up old wounds to squander his last chance at a happy life. It’s interwoven with colorful events that seem out of this world but are a painful reality. Sake, beauty, and six fingers - the fear of the truth is never too far away. A journey that only someone with nothing left to lose can embark on. Or everything.

Tsukuru’s thoughts are always a little bit melancholically, revolving around others. If you put a finer point on it, it’s more like a groundless sadness called forth in a person’s heart by a pastoral landscape. He must be moving forward with a decision others made for him long ago.

People whose freedom is taken away always end up hating somebody. Can Tsukuru understand them after all? The human heart is like a night bird. Silently waiting for something, and when the time comes, it flies straight toward it. Tsukuru searches for answers. But whatever’s waiting for him out there, he’s not going to like it.

Haruki Murakami is known for his impeccable descriptions. In very Japanese fashion, he presents the reader with faits accomplis and, in one of his dreaded leaps in time, wipes them away with a wave of his hand. Suddenly nothing is the same anymore, although neither the characters involved nor the summer scenery have changed.

If Michael Bay were an author, Haruki Murakami would be his counterpart. No explosions, no noise, and no sensory deprivation. But plenty of skill. Everything fits together like a puzzle, every mention has a meaning. When Mr. Tazaki has nothing to do, he gets a train ticket. He buys a cup filled with hot coffee and sits down on the platform in Shinjuku.

Fascinated, he watches the people as they frantically get on and off, as they fall into their seats with relief, and as they ride away and disappear into the darkness. He is afraid to get on the train himself. But perhaps the time is now ripe.

Those who know the previous stories of the successful East Asian author will not experience any surprises in Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, at least no nasty ones. Haruki Murakami remains true to himself and created the perfect book for the fading spring. And in one or two chapters, we suddenly feel caught, reminded of ourselves, immersed in the past. So put on some jazz, pour some tea or whiskey, and dive into Mr. Tazaki’s pale adventures, acting as a mirror to our own sad lives.