Sunday, October 20, 2013

Readers on Give 5 Stars to Tsukuru Tazaki

I just happened to have a look on Amazon and discovered there three reviews of Tsukuru Tazaki. They are a few months old, but perhaps readers of this blog, like me, had not thought of looking for reviews of the novel on before.  All three readers gave the book 5 stars: one has read the book in Japanese, one in Korean, and the third one liked the cover art.

The reader who read the book in Japanese liked it very much and said that, "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki has a compelling mix of the "old" and the "new" Murakami."  Here is a longer fragment of the review:

As a longtime Murakami hand, I fell in love with his novels and short stories from the '80s and '90s, but became increasingly disillusioned as Murakami began experimenting with his style in Kafka on the Shore (which I still found mostly enjoyable), then on to After Dark (which I found completely underwhelming), and 1Q84 (which I honestly struggled to finish). To me, in these newer works, Murakami seemed tentative, off key, and honestly a bit "lost" ... failing to capture the intangible mojo that makes an outstanding Murakami novel better than the sum of its parts. As a result, I approached Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage with a bit of trepidation ... and honestly a bit of resignation--I was willing to give Murakami another shot, but if this book fell short, that might've been the last Murakami book I was willing to read.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki has a compelling mix of the "old" and the "new" Murakami. For the first time since Murakami started to alter his style, the story is told entirely from the perspective of the familiar "Boku" character ... mid-30s, lonely, detached, insecure (in this case, about whether he is "colorless"), on an unusual quest to reconcile a past trauma and lost relationships. The book is strikingly free of the "mystic realism" present in some of his iconic works such as Wind-Up Bird and Hard-Boiled Wonderland, and tells a much more "realistic" tale more similar in concept to Norwegian Wood, South of the Border, or even his debut novel, Hear the Wind Sing ... but with considerably more maturity and psychological depth, I'd argue. Unlike the "old" Murakami protagonist, however, Tsukuru is not passive ... cool, but not dispassionate. It takes some time and some prodding, but eventually he sets out to discover truths and right wrongs

To read the whole thing go to:

Shikisai Wo Motanai Tasaki Tsukuruto Kare No Zyunrei No Toshi in Japanese (1) Tankobon Hardcover

Of course, there are many reviews of the book posted on Amazon's Japanese site (  One in particular, posted in May, became quite notorious because of its humorous, slang-filled style and unabashed, straightforward criticism.  Its author -- who seems to be a young man -- found it impossible to identify with Tsukuru Tazaki and gave the book only one star. He describes reading Murakami's work in the past and finding the main character too pretentious. The same is true, he says, for Tsukuru Tazaki. At the same time, he writes about how surprised he was by the number of reviews by lonely men who really enjoyed the novel and found it encouraging.

Here is the link to the review; due to its very colloquial style it will probably have to be read in the original Japanese, since Google Translate and other similar pages will most likely not be up to the task of translating it.

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