Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
Now out in paperback, Murakami's latest novel may be a world away from the mega hit 1Q84 but don't ignore the apparent realism of this story, what lurks beneath are all the hallmarks of classic Murakami.
The central plot of this neat story is Tsukuru's search to understand why his four closest school friends suddenly, and without warning, give up all communication. Cue themes of rejection, loneliness and solitary reflection which run through so much Japanese fiction.
What's different here are the Murakami motifs which recur over and over; the soundtrack (in this case Liszt's 'Le Mal du Pays'), surreal dream sequences and characters with profoundly deep emotions. Note: You won't find any talking cats this time I'm afraid.
Nevertheless, reasons to love this novel are plenty, put simply this is the perfect blend of the mundane and the mystical, the everyday and the enigmatic. Murakami novels are inhabited by people consumed equally by the routine of domestic chores and the fantasy of the alternative.
Tsukuru Tazaki may not have the allure of 1Q84's Tengo or the charm of Kafka in Kafka on the Shore but seen alongside Norwegian Wood's Turu Watanabe you'll find the typical alienated male figure that makes Murakami's world so compelling. Tsukuru is like a blank canvas that readers must project themselves onto.
Complex relationships shed light on real grown up anxiety that's as much a global theme as a Japanese predilection. In the past Murakami has been celebrated for giving voice to a subcultural generation but now, selling as many copies as Harry Potter, the subculture has gone mainstream.
Look out for Finnair's Murakami themed itineraries in the Narita to Helsinki in flight magazine, coming soon!