Apr 13, 2013

A Very Well Written Novel: My Impression of Haruki Murakami’s New Novel “Tsukuru Tazaki without Colors, and the Year of His Pilgrimage”

I’ve just finished Haruki Murakami’s new novel “Tsukuru Tazaki without Colors, and the Year of His Pilgrimage.”

To put it bluntly, this is a very well written novel.

Haruki Murakami wrote a short novel after a long novel. He wrote “South of the Border, West of the Sun” after “Dance Dance Dance”, “Sputnik Sweetheart” after “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”, “After Dark” and “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” after “Kafka on the Shore”, and this novel after “1Q84.”

His long novels are somewhat confusing. I guess that Haruki Murakami intentionally made them confusing. Dostoyevsky’s long novels, for example “The Brothers Karamazov”, are confusing, too. The intentional confusion of such long novels moves me deeply.

On the contrary, Haruki Murakami’s short novels are very well constructed. When I’m tired, it is too hard to read his long novels, because I don’t want to be moved but be calm. Thus I read his well written short novels, like “Tsukuru Tazaki without Colors, and the Year of His Pilgrimage.”

If you try to read his first novel, I recommend his short novels.

I’d like to translate several passages from this novel.

Jealousy that Tsukuru understood in his dream was the most desperate prison in the word. That was because it is the prison where prisoners locked themselves up. Nobody forced to imprison them. They themselves got into it, locked the door from inside, and threw the keys outside of the iron bars. Nobody knew that they were locked up there. Of course, if they decided to get out of there, they could do so, because the prison existed in their own heart. But they couldn’t choose to. Their hearts got as hard as stonewalls. This is the essence of jealousy. 

“You just say what you feel honestly. It isn’t an excuse.” 

“I had been thinking of myself as a victim. I was forced into a cruel experience without any reason. So I suffered from a deep pain in my soul, and this ruined my natural life. Honestly, I blamed four of you. I wondered why only I had a terrible experience. But it may not be true. I’m not just a victim, but I might also hurt people around me. And I might also hurt myself. ” 

“If you are a empty vessel, it’s OK,” said Eri. “Even so, you are truly a wonderful and fascinating vessel. Nobody knows what they really are, don’t you agree? If you are so, it is enough for you to be a beautiful vessel, which someone wants to put something into. A favorable vessel.”


  1. You've already finished it?! I'm jealous!

    I was disappointed in 1Q84, but I think Murakami is a great author and I'll definitely get this book as soon as it's been translated. You don't want to translate the whole book, do you? Please? :D

    PS: Eri? There's a Fuka-Eri character in 1Q84.

    PPS: What's your favourite Murakami? My favourites are The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (ねじまき鳥クロニクル) and Kafka on the Shore (海辺のカフカ).

    1. When Murakami's copyright become free (is it fifty years after the author's death?), I'll translate it, haha.

      Eri is a different character from Fuka-eri in 1Q84.

      My favorites are "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World", which is my first his novel, and "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle." As I wrote in the entry, I also love his short novels, such as "South of the Border, West of the Sun," "Sputnik Sweetheart," and "Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman."

  2. I can't wait to read his new book! But I'll have to wait for the English translation. After reading many of his books, I can say that my favorite ones are Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and South of the Border, West of Sun. I would like to re-read Sputnik Sweetheart because when I read it, I wasn't in the perfect "mood" to understand its characters.

    1. I can't say that this is a great novel, but it's good enough for me to enjoy it. I want to mean by "a very well written novel."

      When I translated his some passage, I found his Japanese is very clear and easy to translate into English, so the English translation will be publish soon.

  3. I liked 1Q84, partly because it had a slight flavor of "otaku" but also because it was long, meditative, narrative, complex . . . much like the real world we live in but twisted into the manga-realm. Did they ever really get back to a world with only one moon? I'm not so sure and that's the way I like it, nothing is certain. I'm looking forward to an English translation of 'Tuskuru's Pilgrimage' but it's okay, I can wait.

    1. In Murakami's long novels such as "1Q84," "Kafka," and "Wind-up Bird," he made "parallel worlds". I guess I've been living in the "Wind-up Bird" world even now.