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Tag / Haruki Murakami

Reviewsday: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Toru Watanabe is an 18 year old freshman coasting through his college years, days spent reading literature, listening to jazz and classical music and wondering about the peculiarities of his dorm room-mate 'Storm Trooper'. Until one day he runs into a friend from his hometown, a fragile and aloof girl named Naoko. This chance meeting forces Toru into a world love, happiness, loss, and depression that will change his life forever.

Norwegian Wood, is Murakami's best novel to date. Which is odd to a degree, as it lacks the supernatural themes that make up the threads of many of his other great works like Kafka On The Shore or The Wind Up Bird Chronicle that we are familiar with. It still features themes such as loneliness, reading and jazz music, and not to forget Murakami's love for pasta; Norwegian Wood differs however in that while still important in his other works, relationships and how we deal with their complexities really take the forefront in this novel.

I believe this book really has the ability to impact readers on a personal level, as while extreme, many of the situations in this book can be painfully relatable to many, from the trials of unrequited love to losing people that mean a lot to you. While it is a romance book to a degree, it is not corny or soppy in any way and I think can be enjoyed by anyone. If you are new to Murakami this is a great place to start before getting into his more surreal works, and if you are a fan, why haven't you read this yet?

- Ashley, QBD Tea Tree Plaza

Reviewsday: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage


Today we celebrate Haruki Murakami's birthday with a review of one of his most popular books, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.

Tazaki his haunted by the friendship of his high school days. Each of his friend's names contained a colour, while, fittingly, his did not. He always considered himself the boring friend, the 5th wheel so to speak, but it didn't make it any easier for him when he was spontaneously kicked from the group with no warning and no explanation. Years later, his new girlfriend convinces him to go back and find out what happened so he can finally move on.

Murakami has a talent for weaving fantastical aspects into the mundane and everyday scenarios he writes about. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is a little tamer than Murakami's other works, which makes it a perfect pick for anyone who hasn't read one before.

- Megan, QBD Charlestown

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage


After reading most all of Murakami's books, it has become apparent that he follows a formula that doesn't stray from the usual too often. He deals mostly with coming of age stories, the journey from adolescence to adulthood in all its awkwardness, from first loves and heartbreaks to trying to find your place in the world. But although it tends to be much more of the same you always find yourself cheering for the protagonist every step of the way. I find this tends to come from how relatable and normal his characters tend to be (even if most reading this review are not Japanese youth), You will always find yourself in the story feeling those same awkward emotions that to most people will be familiar.

In Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage , this formula is much the same but instead of the reader following the the protagonist on his journey through youth, we find ourselves in the shoes of 36 year old Tsukuru Tazaki, a train station engineer in Tokyo, who is still haunted by events of his former years. At age 20, Tsukuru was kicked out of a group, one that he had thought to be an unbreakable bond between five friends, 3 boys and 2 girls. Each member, bar himself, had colourful names: Red, Blue, White and black. This represents how he has always thought of himself, as someone with no special features, not ugly but not handsome, not dumb but in no means exceptionally smart and so on. As such he goes through the rest of his life believing that his mediocrity is the reason he was removed from the group.

His melancholic life set to the tune of ‘Le Mal Du Pays’ by Liszt (a classical song referenced multiple times throughout the book, and a tell tale sign you are reading a Murakami novel) changes when he meets a girl who encourages him to find closure and discover why he was removed from the group before she will continue to be intimate with him. As such for the first time since the events 16 years earlier, Tsukuru makes an effort to find out what happened, a journey that sends him back to his hometown and even across the world, where he finds all is not as it seemed, and that maybe there was more to his abandonment than previously assumed.

For first time Murakami readers you may find many loose ends that are not resolved, but that is much to the charm of his books, and if you decide to go back to other novels such as his classics IQ84 and Norwegian Wood this is something you will learn to appreciate in his writing. This is one of my favourite Murakami books to date, and shows that even at age 65, he can still take the mundane everyday life and make it seem magical.