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Colorless Tsukuru Discussion > Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage discussion

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message 1: by Jenn (new)

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
Miguel's selection for July is Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami.

Please post your discussions here.


message 2: by Julie (new)

Julie Place | 87 comments I’m about half way through this book and let’s just say this is something completely different than this group has ever read before


message 3: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments Julie wrote: "I’m about half way through this book and let’s just say this is something completely different than this group has ever read before"

I read one of his novels earlier this year (Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World) and although I found the second half to be kind of messy, I really enjoyed the experience. The book was distinctly different and unique, and I'm hoping this one's even better!


message 4: by Julie (new)

Julie Place | 87 comments I don’t get it... this book left me with more questions than answers! I am not a fan of books that don’t have an ending that leave you hanging.

Why have a story line about a murder but not find out who did it? Were the main character and his friend end up together? Did the original group of friends keep in contact? Did the main character figure out his issues? What happened to his swimming buddy??? Ahhh just frustrated!!

It was a quick read and moved pretty fast just because I wanted to know the answers to my questions


message 5: by Miguel (new)

Miguel (miggy126) | 74 comments This was my first Haruki Marukami book and it did not disappoint. On of my closest friends has recommended this author to me numerous times and I figured this month’s selection would be a good time for it.

SPOILERS BELOW!

I really liked the flow this book had from beginning to end. It would start off in present time then go back to previous events then back again to the present. Haruki I thought did a good job of a smooth transition between both. I wasn’t lost at anytime or wondered whether it was present or past.

The emphasis on Tsukuru’s thoughts and dreams I really enjoyed throughout this book. It brings a humanistic feel to it similar to the Bell Jar book we read previously. The thoughts of death and emptiness were very descriptive and puts you in Tsukuru’s POV that we don’t really get in other books. Not saying we can all relate to his thoughts but at some point every one hits a “low” point in their life and come out of it a different person. This is I really liked about this story.

Tsukuru might have thought of death everyday during his dark time but I am glad he didn’t give in. Loved how he said he didn’t want death to win even though at some moments he was trying to convince his heart to stop beating. It also must not be easy living alone in a big city without family nearby. A distant father and minimal relationship with siblings and his mother may have resulted in him wanting to be alone.

One thing that bothered me about this story was the fact that none of his other 3 friends even bothered to reach out to him to hear both sides of the story. How you could lose contact with a close friend like this over a serious accusation and not want to follow up on it is beyond me. His friends are the reason Tsukuru went to the dark abyss of his mind for that long time.

I also really liked how relatable it was for me and I would assume most people. We all have some friends we lose contact with and maybe want to reach out again to get some closure or maybe just see how they are doing.

The ending did bother me a bit. I wanted to know what would happen between him and Sara (I believe that is her name). But I guess it fits with the moral of the book and the life of Tsukuru. He has lived with many unanswered questions throughout his life and it fits to not know the ending of his next chapter.

Overall, I enjoyed my first Haruki book and I am hopeful that I will be able to read many of his other books. I hope you all enjoyed it as well. Please let me know your thoughts.


message 6: by Wendopolis (new)

Wendopolis | 77 comments I enjoyed this book. The main character was interesting and complex, despite his assertion he was not. The flow good, writing (or translation) smooth. I actually didn’t mind the ending; it did make me wonder if things would work out with Sara, but not in an annoying way.

Good pick.


message 7: by Michelle (last edited Jul 22, 2018 12:14AM) (new)

Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments I have finished this, so my post will contain SPOILERS.
[3.5/5 for me]

You know what, this was a pretty enjoyable read. Like Wonderland, I liked how fast and smooth the writing was, whether that was a service of Murakami himself or the translator. Personally, I enjoyed this one more because the ending connected everything together better. That being said, it appears that Murakami's weakness lies in creating a compelling resolution to his books.

I don't necessarily mind the way the story ended. The ambiguous nature of Tazaki and Sara's relationship leaves room for the readers to muse over. To be quite honest, I don't care about it either way. Contrary to how Tazaki felt about her, I had trouble figuring out what special attachments they shared with each other.

As with his other book, I liked the first half better. "Half" isn't necessarily correct with this one -- maybe 2/3? 3/4? After he returns to Tokyo is when my interest started waning. It's hard to put this book down because the allure of a mystery's there: why was Tazaki cast off from the rest of his friends and whatever happened to Shuro? I had the need to find out...

The "mystery" I really enjoyed (there's probably a better word for this, though; I feel like I'm kind of trivializing their situation). At the same time, I'm kind of conflicted by it. On one hand, I understand why the friends cut Tazaki off. They could have handled it a different way, I guess, but I wouldn't know how they could without losing Shuro. Given the gravity of their situation, their course of action isn't one I would oppose -- actually, I think it was for the best. For the time being. Yeah, they probably should have reconnected with Tazaki once Shuro calmed down or once they figured he wasn't the one who raped her. But I guess distance slowly lends itself to apathy, and so I can also understand why the group just fell apart instead of trying to mend everything. I don't know why Shuro targeted Tazaki directly, and I suppose we'll never know. Kuro offers an explanation, but it doesn't quite satisfy me.

Now, on the other hand, I wish I could have gotten more out of this story. I know Tazaki is supposedly transformed by the time he returns to Japan (or at least, acts less passively about what he wants), but I don't quite see how learning about why his friends dumped him led him to get rid of his emotional baggage. If I wanted to give it a go, I'd say he's relieved that them kicking him out is not a result of who he was or anything he'd done, but out of a false accusation the friends had no choice but to believe in. Since he didn't know the reason, I could see how he was led to believe that they somehow -- all of a sudden -- found him too objectionable to tolerate much longer and kicked him out, leaving him devastated with the thought that there was something innately wrong with him. However, the present Tazaki, before he reconnected with his friends, just seemed really listless to me, like he doesn't know what he wants. Sure, he carried some emotional issues, but Sara was the one who recognized it and insisted he'd deal with it. That part of the book felt really contrived to me, as I didn't feel like Tazaki had any debilitating emotional "baggage" until Sara pointed it out. It was obvious that he needed to start his pilgrimage somehow (and get the plot moving), so I guess this was the way to do it. I guess maybe I would've liked for him to figure this out himself?

I so wish I could have learned more about Shuro's case and what went down with her before she was murdered. I don't really care who did it; I just want to know more specifically how she ended up that way. I don't want to say her rape was used as a shock factor in this story, but it kind of feels like it at certain times. What I conjecture is that Murakami needed had a really great premise -- that being a solitary man who was once part of a great group of friends who suddenly cut him off -- but needed to somehow work out how to connect everything together to keep the "mystery" intact. A case of rape and accusations should probably do it, since it's shocking, unexpected, and serious enough. Otherwise, I don't think her plight would have been treated so much as an afterthought. (But again, this is all just conjecture.)

To the point of Tazaki after his trip to Finland: again, not as gripping, which leads me to believe that I was mostly entranced by the need-to-know effect of the story thus far. I didn't really appreciate the way all of Tazaki's ruminations just piled on and on those last few pages.

But don't get me wrong, though. I liked it more than I didn't. Tazaki's character, despite him being "colorless" is personally relateable. I enjoyed reading through all his thoughts and emotions, especially those of self-doubt. There are a lot of great passages here and there that I thought provided some really cool introspection about solitude and loneliness. This book was very engaging overall.

(This is weird note to make, but I'll say it here: I keep noticing that Tazaki mentioned Kuro's breasts whenever they embraced or whenever he thought of their embrace... ??)

Having now read two of his works, Murakami has a very distinct style. I find that a lot is expressed through the characters' dialogue, including pertinent plot points/details -- kind of like instructions for characters to follow through, in a way. Also, there's a lot dealing with the subconscious and the dream world, which are interesting to read through.

Although I'm not amazed by anything I've read of his so far, I'm not opposed to other works by him. Everything else I have not read by him are more popular, anyway, so I look forward to giving his other novels a go in the future.


message 8: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments Okay, believe it or not, I forgot to say a few things, so here's a second post:

1. I didn't like the way the characters' intuitive(?) feelings were expressed as general facts, i.e. Sara's insistence that Tazaki's emotional baggage had to with his friends or the fact that Kuro was 100% certain that Tazaki had to hold on to Sara without knowing much.

2. I listened to Berman's version of "Le Mal du Pays" since the book kept bringing it up. It is pretty melancholic, I guess. I'm not versed enough in classical-music listening to say much of anything else. In any case, it's a nice piece, although I wouldn't really listen to it again.

3. I looked up Shinjuku Station just to get an idea of how crowded it is. Yep, it's pretty crowded. I looked up Grand Central Station (that's the only other famous train/metro station I could think of) for comparison. A lot fewer people and way sparser in terms of crowding. This part of the book reminded me of something I came across a while ago having to do with a Japanese train-system management apologizing to the public for one of their trains departing early -- something like 20 seconds ahead of schedule. That's wild -- imagine if our transportation system was that punctual! I think this made it into the news, and some people joked that it sounded like the headline of an Onion article. That's something I respect about the Japanese culture -- they're incredibly formal, organized, and cordial.


message 9: by Miguel (new)

Miguel (miggy126) | 74 comments Michelle wrote: "I don't necessarily mind the way the story ended. The ambiguous nature of Tazaki and Sara's relationship leaves room for the readers to muse over. To be quite honest, I don't care about it either way. Contrary to how Tazaki felt about her, I had trouble figuring out what special attachments they shared with each other.


I thought the same about the relationship. There wasn't much depth to it other then how Tsukuru felt when he was with her. Relationship seemed sort of flat. They saw it each other occasionally when she wasn't busy with her job or with the older guy.


message 10: by Miguel (new)

Miguel (miggy126) | 74 comments Michelle wrote: "I so wish I could have learned more about Shuro's case and what went down with her before she was murdered. I don't really care who did it; I just want to know more specifically how she ended up that way. I don't want to say her rape was used as a shock factor in this story, but it kind of feels like it at certain times. What I conjecture is that Murakami needed had a really great premise -- that being a solitary man who was once part of a great group of friends who suddenly cut him off -- but needed to somehow work out how to connect everything together to keep the "mystery" intact. A case of rape and accusations should probably do it, since it's shocking, unexpected, and serious enough. Otherwise, I don't think her plight would have been treated so much as an afterthought. (But again, this is all just conjecture.)"

That's a really good observation of this part of the story. I also really wanted to learn about Shuro. Why blame Tsukuru? I almost felt like she wanted him out of the group but why? Maybe the only explanation is the one you provided that the author needed something to go off for the main plot of the story.


message 11: by Miguel (new)

Miguel (miggy126) | 74 comments Michelle wrote: "2. I listened to Berman's version of "Le Mal du Pays" since the book kept bringing it up. It is pretty melancholic, I guess. I'm not versed enough in classical-music listening to say much of anything else. In any case, it's a nice piece, although I wouldn't really listen to it again."

I actually listened to the piece as well. I usually listen to the peaceful piano playlist on spotify when i read so i've heard some piano pieces. The one mentioned above didn't really stand out to me but it was okay.

3. I looked up Shinjuku Station just to get an idea of how crowded it is. Yep, it's pretty crowded. I looked up Grand Central Station (that's the only other famous train/metro station I could think of) for comparison. A lot fewer people and way sparser in terms of crowding. This part of the book reminded me of something I came across a while ago having to do with a Japanese train-system management apologizing to the public for one of their trains departing early -- something like 20 seconds ahead of schedule. That's wild -- imagine if our transportation system was that punctual! I think this made it into the news, and some people joked that it sounded like the headline of an Onion article. That's something I respect about the Japanese culture -- they're incredibly formal, organized, and cordial."

That's actually really impressive. I read this earlier in the week and thought about how it would be if the CTA(Chicago Transit Authority) was the same about being punctual. They are always delayed and I'm always late for work lol. I have yet to receive an apology....


message 12: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments Miguel wrote: That's actually really impressive. I read this earlier in the week and thought about how it would be if the CTA(Chicago Transit Authority) was the same about being punctual. They are always delayed and I'm always late for work lol. I have yet to receive an apology.... "

Lol. I take public transportation too (for now), and though I think the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) system is pretty reliable on most days, they've also had a number of delays and mechanical mishaps. If the transportation systems here had to issue an apology everytime they're delayed, they'd apologize nonstop, lol. I know the New York metro is probably a nightmare in comparison.


message 13: by Wendopolis (new)

Wendopolis | 77 comments Well, the CTA does have to share track with freight trains. (My husband works in the Command Center) so that might explain some of it, although priority goes to the commuter trains 🤗


message 14: by Miguel (new)

Miguel (miggy126) | 74 comments Wendopolis wrote: "Well, the CTA does have to share track with freight trains. (My husband works in the Command Center) so that might explain some of it, although priority goes to the commuter trains 🤗"

Wendopolis, are you saying you live in Chicago?


message 15: by Wendopolis (new)

Wendopolis | 77 comments We live on the Indiana side of Chicago. My husband commutes


message 16: by Jenn (last edited Jul 29, 2018 12:30PM) (new)

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
SPOILERS.

Some thoughts on Colorless Tsukuru--

1. It explores really well self-identity vs. how others view you. I've known people like Tsukuru--confident, cool, and then you get to know them and they have zero self-esteem and think of themselves as boring. I don't think I've ever read a book before that dealt with that discrepancy so well. It's a little bit shocking to discover, in the end, that Tsukuru was "the cool one" of the group, and not the fifth wheel that he'd always insisted he was.

2. That ending. The story, as you're reading, comes across as a whodunnit. It sets you up to think that one of the five friends raped and killed Shiro. And it's annoying to discover that, in the end, it was probably none of the above. Like Shiro herself, those are unsolved mysteries.

3. I don't like when books use false rape accusations to propel their stories. A good portion of people out there think women are liars by nature, that we're all scheming manipulators. When we say something like, "I was raped last month," someone will ask verbatim: "If that's true, then why didn't you come forward when police could have collected evidence?" Never mind the fear of real and imagined consequences involved in coming forward about rape.

But Murakami handles it differently than most others who use The False Rape Accusation plot device. It isn't just a plot twist in Colorless Tsukuru--although it is that as well--; the entire book is a carefully crafted, and tactful, exploration of what happens to a man who's falsely accused of rape.

Murakami essentially asks:
Without dismissing the oppression women experience, can we ask: What about the men who are accused of rape, who are innocent?

What Murakami says through Kuro's character should resonate with a lot of women right now: (paraphrased quote because I read audiobooks) "I knew Shiro might be lying, but I chose her side because I knew she was raped by someone, even though I didn't know who, and I knew you could survive and she couldn't."

But does Tsukuru survive? He has until now, but I don't think he will continue to. He's screwed up for life because of that accusation. Even though he seems to improve after seeing his old friends, there's a lot of suicidal imagery in the last few pages. It's implied that if Sara doesn't choose him (and I don't think she will; she just doesn't seem that into him by the end of the book. "Wait three days, then I'll tell you if I'm sleeping with someone else"? Pfsh)... It's implied that if Sara doesn't choose him, he's going to kill himself. Tsukuru's self-worth, to the very last page, is heavily attached to other people's acceptance and approval.

Through this book, Murakami sets up this conversation:

Men: What if we're falsely accused of rape?

(Some) Women: You'll survive.

Murakami: Will we?



4. Did Tsukuru rape Shiro? It's never really answered. Tsukuru has a strong, convincing hypothesis by the end, but we see throughout the book how deeply flawed his thinking can be. It seems to me that Tsukuru possibly did do it. There's evidence throughout the book that he has Dissociative Identity Disorder, and, if so, one of his alternate personalities might have done it. My evidence: his feeling that he's "empty" and lacks any real identity; his feeling that there's a "hidden darkness" inside of him; Shiro's absolute, unwavering conviction that he raped her; the fact that he doesn't try to find a reason for his banishment from the group, in part because of a lurking sense that he's done something terrible and doesn't want to know what; Sara randomly commenting at one point that Tsukuru's voice sounds different; the weird dream-but-not-a-dream states he goes into. It all sounds like DID.

In the end, we can't know what really happened--which is true of crimes that happen in reality more often than not--and Murakami asks us to think about that.

Great book, Miguel.


message 17: by Jenn (last edited Jul 29, 2018 01:07PM) (new)

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
One more thing--

(I love when I can't stop thinking about a book.)

Spoilers still.

I don't know how many of you are English or Literature majors, but a funny thing you learn about older books (from ~ the late 1800s and earlier) is that women protagonists, in the end, usually either die, get married, or go insane--because those were the only believable endings for them back then.

I wonder if Murakami chose Tsukuru's fate based on that. Tsukuru has been driven "insane" by his banishment, and, in the end, he's either going to die or get married to Sara.

I wonder if that's supposed to represent a role reversal. If so, I'm not sure how I feel about it. Men accused of rape still, even now, have a mountain of options that women in the late 1800s didn't have. That women *today* don't have.


message 18: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments Jenn wrote: "It's implied that if Sara doesn't choose him, he's going to kill himself. Tsukuru's self-worth, to the very last page, is heavily attached to other people's acceptance and approval. "

I didn't immediately leap to suicide, but I felt a sense of an ending. It's like he was carrying his whole weight on Sara's decision and attaching his future to it. I don't think Sara's going to choose him, either... which means Tazaki's going to do something drastic. Now that you've brought it up, it does totally sound like Tazaki might commit suicide...

Did Tsukuru rape Shiro? It's never really answered. Tsukuru has a strong, convincing hypothesis by the end, but we see throughout the book how deeply flawed his thinking can be. It seems to me that Tsukuru possibly did do it. There's evidence throughout the book that he has Dissociative Identity Disorder, and, if so, one of his alternate personalities might have done it."

I mean, I did consider whether there was a possibility that Tazaki had done it and didn't know that he did it (maybe the event was mentally blocked or something), but his (former) friends said it didn't align with his character, so I dismissed the thought. By the end of the book, I concluded that Shiro was raped by someone else. If Murakami had revealed that Tazaki DID do it, however, I wouldn't be totally blindsided. He didn't seem like he'd be the type of person to do something like that, but maybe you have a point about him suppressing something, or missing some identity.

I definitely enjoyed Tazaki's exploration of his self-worth and him wrestling with his self-esteem. I thought it was one of the book's strongest points. The dreams were strange but interesting -- and yes, I do think dreams are a manifestation of our preoccupying thoughts, anxieties, etc., though I'm not one to proclaim that they have super deep meanings or anything -- just that they reflect our emotional/mental state sometimes. I know that in the literary world, they're often used to symbolize, predict, or embody important themes. Based on his dreams, Tazaki seems to have a peculiar attachment to Shiro. Maybe they're telling us (if they're telling us anything) that he was attracted to Shiro despite claiming otherwise. Again, I don't want to make the leap that he raped Shiro, but if he did, his dreams might be an indication of what he committed.


message 19: by Jenn (new)

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
The friends' analysis of Shiro's behavior and their ultimate conclusion that she was crazy and that it couldn't have been Tsukuru who'd raped Shiro was one of the more interesting things about this book for me. The two guys don't give specifics (as I recall... I could be wrong) as to why they think Shiro is wrong about Tsukuru; they just vaguely say something like, "As time passed, it became clear she wasn't in her right mind." But wouldn't a survivor of rape not necessarily be in her right mind? But then you get to Kuro, who is absolutely positive that Tsukuru could never have done it. And she's convincing, very convincing. But you have to wonder whether she's biased--she was so in love with Tsukuru in high school, and love blinds people.

I don't know. I think he could have done it. But I don't think that's what Murakami wants readers to focus on; I think he wanted to write a story in which rape, and the hearsay surrounding it, is portrayed with as much murkiness as there is in real-life cases of it.


message 20: by Miguel (new)

Miguel (miggy126) | 74 comments I also didn't think Tsukuru actually raped Shiro but I did have second thoughts about it. Now that I try to recall certain parts of the book. he consistently had dreams about sexual interaction with both women. If I am not mistaken it was always Shiro who he penetrated in his dreams and not Kuro(Please confirm if I am wrong on this). He also was in the midst of one of these dreams when Haida was sleeping over. Haida interacted with his dream and Tsukuru firmly stated how it had to be a dream even thought it felt real. Haida then takes off after this and we never read about him again.

Could this have been what happened with him and Shiro? Is it possible that Tsukuru at one point invited her over or maybe she was in town? These dreams are maybe something that have happened in reality but manifest themselves as dreams for Tsukuru. Once Shiro found out she was pregnant then she claimed to be raped because maybe she didn't want the group to find out.

Just some thoughts on this part of the story. I know it's a bit of a reach.


message 21: by Miguel (new)

Miguel (miggy126) | 74 comments Also, I do believe Sara ends up choosing Tsukuru in the end. Making him wait for bad news just doesn't make sense to me. The other guy she was seeing was also older from what Tsukuru stated so I don't believe she was serious with him.

I believe Sara liked the progress he made with this former friends and wanted closure for him so he could be fully emotionally involved with her. His time away also gives her some time to completely cut off the other relationship. If she was going to stop seeing Tsukuru she would've done it over the phone. Much easier.


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