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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

cover-tazaki-1.jpgCumbersome book title aside, this is an outstanding book. Originally written in Japanese, it sold over a million copies the first week in Japan. The author is an international award winner, and this brilliantly translated version of his latest book was much anticipated in the US.

Main character Tsukuru (his name means "builder") was part of a very tight knit group of friends through high school. The friends’ names are all various colors (Miss Black, Mr. Red, etc.), but Tsukuru became known as the "colorless Tsukuru." Most of the group stayed in town after high school, however Tsukuru left home to go to college in Tokyo. There, he pursued his lifelong fascination with train stations and got his degree in building and designing them. For reasons he did not understand, his group of high school buddies unceremoniously cut him out of the group without explanation. Emotionally bereft, he continued his career, but never attached himself closely with another person. Enter a woman named Sara. They start dating, and Sara tells Tsukuru that until he gets over whatever is blocking him emotionally, he will not be able to live his life fully. The journey that he takes, his pilgrimage, makes for such good reading and also raises many questions that beg to be discussed.

If you are looking for a well-written book that holds your attention, and also makes you think, this is the one for you. Take care to notice the way the book is designed; it is an unusual, compact size, and both the cover art and images throughout add another layer to the reading experience. Worth noting is the detailed map in the book’s front matter that shows part of the huge Tokyo subway system. If you are an e-reader, make an exception and read the bound book, because you'll miss so much visually if you don’t.

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