- Source:Booklist; 1/1/2015, Vol. 111 Issue 9/10, p8-19, 12p
- Document Type:Article
- Publication Information:American Library Association / Booklist Publications
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Booklist Reviews 2014 August #1
*Starred Review* That Murakami's densely metaphysical, narratively labyrinthine novels have become worldwide best-sellers (the Japanese edition of this book sold one million copies in its first week after publication) may be as confounding yet somehow inspirational a phenomenon as the books themselves are devilishly difficult yet hypnotically fascinating. His latest is no exception, which is perhaps surprising given that its hero, Tsukuru Tazaki, considers himself "colorless." That's because, first, his name doesn't equate to a color, as do the names of his four closest high-school friends, with whom he maintained a remarkably tight-knit, intimate friendship until he was summarily dropped from the group. That brutal sundering left Tazaki adrift and all the more colorless, wandering through college as a kind of cipher obsessed with death. Now an engineer who designs train stations, Tazaki finds deep if ironic satisfaction in helping to move people from place to place, even as he lives a largely stationary life. That changes when he meets Sara and, at her urging, undertakes a pilgrimage to meet his four former friends and learn why he was ostracized from the group. So begins a journey of immense magnitude, both physically (one of the friends lives in Finland) and, of course, metaphysically, as Tazaki attempts to make sense of his own inner world and the dreams that shape his other dimension. There are always other dimensions in Murakami's novels, and while they can seem impenetrable, they eventually feed into and help vivify the powerful personal dramas taking place on a purely human level. In the end, Murakami writes love stories, all the more tender and often tragic for their exploration of the multiple realities in which his lovers live. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Murakami may not be quite as popular in the U.S. as he is in Japan, but a 250,000 first printing suggests that in this country, too, he has found a significant audience of serious fiction readers. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2014 June #2
In high school, Tsukuru Tazaki was part of a "perfect community" of five best friends. Each had a color attached to their family names—red, blue, white, black—except for Tsukuru, rendering him "colorless." After Tsukuru begins college in Tokyo, he's brutally excised without explanation. Sixteen years later, he's a successful train station engineer living a comfortable life still in Tokyo. Contentment, however, eludes him: "I have no sense of self…I feel like an empty vessel. I have a shape…but there's nothing inside." He's on the verge of his most significant relationship, but his lover warns he "need[s] to come face-to-face with the past" in order to consider a future. His name may lack color, but it also promises agency: tsukuru is the infinitive for "make" or "build." With Facebook and Google as guides, his pilgrimage will take him home and as far as a Finnish lakeside. VERDICT Murakami devotees will sigh with relief at finding his usual memes—the moon, Cutty Sark, a musical theme, ringing telephones, a surreal story-within-a-story (this time about passing on death and possibly six fingers). That the novel sold over one million copies its first week in Japan guarantees—absolutely, deservedly so—instant best-seller status stateside as well. [See Prepub Alert, 4/14/14.]—Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC[Page 87]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2014 April #4
Murakami's (1Q84) latest novel, which sold more than a million copies during its first week on sale in Japan, is a return to the mood and subject matter of the acclaimed writer's earlier work. Living a simple, quotidian life as a train station engineer, Tsukuru is compelled to reexamine his past after a girlfriend suggests he reconnect with a group of friends from high school. A tight-knit fivesome for years, the group suddenly alienated Tsukuru under mysterious circumstances when he was in college. For months after the break, not knowing what had gone wrong, he became obsessed with death and slowly lost his sense of self: "I've always seen myself as an empty person, lacking color and identity. Maybe that was my role in the group. To be empty." Feeling his life will only progress if he can tie up those emotional loose ends, Tsukuru journeys through Japan and into Europe to meet with the members of the group and unravel what really happened 16 years before. The result is a vintage Murakami struggle of coming to terms with buried emotions and missed opportunities, in which intentions and pent up desires can seemingly transcend time and space to bring both solace and desolation. (Aug.)[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC