Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami Published by Harvill Secker Format: Hardcover Sources: Publisher Buy the Book
On August 24, 2014 in the Guardian’s book blog, Marta Bausell wrote about the questions of Murakami’s readers and how the writer responded those questions in the Edinburgh Book Festival. Among those questions, there is one that particularly attracted my attention. Bausell noted down that Murakami was asked why most of his characters are so sad. According to Bausell’s account, Murakami, who was indeed astounded by the question, answered, “I have no intention to write about sad characters” (Murakami qtd. in Bausell). As a matter of fact, unlike this reader mentioned by Bausell, I have also never thought that Murakami’s characters are sad. On the contrary, I have always felt that they are usually so passive – in the sense that they would not take any action so long as they are not pushed for it – that his characters cannot be so sad. Or, even if they are ready to take an action as in the case Toru Okada, the protagonist of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle to restore his marriage, his sadness does not amount to a level, which would render him as a depressed or gloomy man. Therefore, I would not necessarily consider his characters to be sad in general.
While this may hold true for most of his novels and short-fiction, Tsukuru Tazaki of Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, if I am not mistaken, is his first protagonist, who genuinely wishes to die. Whether it is mere sadness or just emptiness he feels inside triggers his wish to die it is upon readers to decide. Yet, as the very opening of the novel demonstrates it clearly, Tsukuru has a very strong desire to die: “If there had been a door within reach that led straight to death, he wouldn’t have hesitated to push it open, without a second thought, as if it were just a part of ordinary life” (Murakami 1). Despite the fact that death has such a strong hold on Tsukuru, he does not commit suicide. This is “… because he couldn’t conceive of a method that fit the pure and intense feelings he had toward death” (Murakami 1). Continue reading