The story follows a typical Murakami-esque guy whose group of friends suddenly inexplicably gave him the cold shoulder and, sixteen years later, he’s finally pushed by his girlfriend to visit them one by one and get to the bottom of things. As an adolescent Tsukuru was part of a group of five friends, who were seemingly inseparable, but then he went away to university in Tokyo leaving the group in Nagoya. When he returned they no longer wanted anything to do with him, no explanations were offered and Tsukuru was too depressed to ask. Tsukuru sees himself as colorless in that the other four had names derived from colours but he didn’t, his name is a homophone for “To make or build”.
Tsuruku laments: I have no sense of self. I have no personality, no brilliant color. I have nothing to offer. That’s always been my problem. I feel like an empty vessel. I have a shape, I guess, as a container, but there’s nothing inside.
Murakami writes like a modern Japanese Kafka, appreciating the bizarre nature of the world. A slow soak in a bath of music (Liszt and Elvis this time), colour, friendship, loneliness, philosophy, train stations, creation and death. Murakami is a genius at writing with emotions swirling beneath the text.
My rating : 4 out of 5