Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
Shikisai o motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to, Kare no Junrei no Toshi
|Cover artist||Morris Louis|
|Genre||Realist novel, Bildungsroman|
|Media type||Print (hardcover)|
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (Japanese: 色彩を持たない多崎つくると、彼の巡礼の年 Hepburn: Shikisai o motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to, Kare no Junrei no Toshi?) is the thirteenth[n. 1] novel by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. Published on 12 April 2013 in Japan, it sold one million[n. 2] copies in one month. It was Murakami's first release since his three-volume novel 1Q84 (2009–2010).
The English-language edition, translated by Philip Gabriel, was released worldwide on 12 August 2014. It topped the U.S. bestsellers list of Nielsen BookScan and The New York Times in the "Hardcover Fiction" category.
On 16 February 2013, the publishing company Bungeishunjū announced that Haruki Murakami's new novel was to be published in April. On 15 March, the title “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” and the release date of 12 April were disclosed.
Preorders were placed starting that day, and the sales reached 10 thousand copies on Amazon.co.jp within 11 days. It took one day fewer than its predecessor, 1Q84, to become the fastest selling book on Amazon.co.jp. The publisher prepared 300,000 copies, the largest number of first edition copies of a hardcover book in the company's history. Furthermore, the number of copies to be printed over the course of three more print runs before the release date was expected to reach 450,000 copies.
Prior to the book's release, statements such as Haruki Murakami's messages on 28 February and 15 March, were issued to convey fragments of information over the course of seven statements. However, details of the novel were not disclosed. Furthermore, galleys, usually given to other reviewers, newspapers, and bookstores before the publication, were not created. The knowledge of the content of the book was limited to a small number of people.
With the book's release date announced to be at midnight on Friday 12 April 2013, late-night bookstores in metropolitan Tokyo which were to start selling the book at 00:00 AM witnessed long lines of more than 150 people. Seven days after the release, the book had been printed 8 times for a total of over one million copies in print, reportedly[n. 2] sold during the following month. In November, point-of-sale information firm Oricon certified 985,000 copies sold.
Chapter 5 of the novel appeared as the standalone "Haida's Story" on 27 July 2014 at Slate.
The English translation was released worldwide on Tuesday 12 August 2014 in all formats (print, digital, audio). As in Japan the year before, some bookstores held UK "midnight launches" and US "midnight parties" in the last hours of Monday 11 August 2014, in order to sell the new book at 0:01am to pre-order customers ranging from dozens to hundreds, lined in the streets or gathered at evening events (such as film projections, quiz games, raffles, or karaoke contests); other stores chose early openings with free coffee at 8am; in Australia and New Zealand, an online competition offered to win a $3000 travel voucher (to go on a "pilgrimage" of one's own).
The book topped several U.S. bestsellers lists from its first week in the "Hardcover Fiction" category, its first-month rankings being: Nielsen BookScan (#1 the first week, then #2, #3, and #10); and The New York Times (#1 the first two weeks, then #2, and #6).
Murakami supported the launch with two public appearances in the UK (his firsts since 2003): an open talk and signing on 23 and 24 August 2014 at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in Scotland, and a signing on 30 August at a Piccadilly bookstore in London.
- Original edition
- English edition
|This section requires expansion. (August 2014)|
In this Bildungsroman of the realist kind (hints of the author's magical realism are left to dreams and tales), the third-person narrative follows the past and present of Tsukuru Tazaki, a man who wants to understand why his life was derailed sixteen years ago.
In the early 1990s in his hometown of Nagoya, the young Tsukuru was a fan of toy trains. In high school, the two boys and two girls that were his four best friends all had a color as part of their surnames, leaving him the "colorless" one of their "orderly, harmonious community". But one day in 1995, during his second year in college, his friends abruptly cut all relationships with him. That never-explained ostracism left him feel suicidal then "as an empty person, lacking in color and identity"; and when his only college friend vanished the next semester, he felt "fated to always be alone".
Now in 2011's Tokyo, the 36-year-old engineer Tazaki works for a railway-station construction company. His new girlfriend Sara spurs him "to come face-to-face with the past, not as some naive, easily wounded boy, but as a grown-up" and seek his former friends to mend the relationships and find out why they rejected him, because she won't commit to him unless he can move past that issue. And so he will visit them one by one, first back in Nagoya, then in rural Finland, on a quest for truth and a pilgrimage for happiness.
- Tsukuru Tazaki
- Tsukuru Tazaki (多崎 つくる (written 多崎 作 in the family register) Tazaki Tsukuru?) The protagonist, his given name is a homophone for "To make or build" and his family name doesn't contain any color symbol. The character's current age is 36. Single. Liked train stations since childhood, and now makes a living designing train stations at a railway company in Tokyo.
- Kei Akamatsu
- Kei Akamatsu (赤松 慶 Akamatsu Kei?) He was a high-school friend of Tsukuru, and nicknamed Aka or "Red" (his family name means "Red Pine"). Now a seminar seller still in Nagoya, he has a successful business that offers employee training to big companies in the area. A closet homosexual, he feels stifled in little Nagoya.
- Yoshio Oumi
- Yoshio Oumi (青海 悦夫 Oumi Yoshio?) He was a high-school friend of Tsukuru, and nicknamed Ao[n. 3] or "Blue" (his family name means "Blue Sea"). Now a car dealer still in Nagoya, he sells Toyota's luxury car Lexus.
- Yuzuki Shirane
- Yuzuki Shirane (白根 柚木 Shirane Yuzuki?) She was a high-school friend of Tsukuru, and nicknamed Shiro or "White" (her family name means "White Root"). She became a private piano teacher and lived in Hamamatsu, before being strangled to death in an unsolved murder six years ago.
- Eri Kurono Haatainen
- Eri Kurono (黒埜 恵里 Kurono Eri?) She was a high-school friend of Tsukuru, and nicknamed Kuro or "Black" (her family name means "Black Meadow"[n. 4]). Now a pottery artist, she married Edvard Haatainen, a Finn who came to Japan to learn pottery, then she moved to live in Finland as Eri Kurono Haatainen (エリ・クロノ・ハアタイネン?) and now has two daughters.
- Sara Kimoto
- Sara Kimoto (木元 沙羅 Kimoto Sara?) Tsukuru's current love interest, her given name means "sal tree" and her family name "Under the tree" (or "tree base" as a non-name). Two years older than Tsukuru , she lives in Tokyo and works for a travel agency.
- Fumiyaki Haida
- Fumiyaki Haida (灰田 文紹 Haida Fumiyaki?) One of Tsukuru's few friends from college, his family name means "Gray Paddy".[n. 4] Two years younger than Tsukuru, he disappeared from the university before the beginning of the new semester.
- Haida's father
- Haida's father was a college teacher. In the 1960s, he took a leave of absence from school to travel Japan and worked odd jobs. While being employed as handyman at a small hot-springs inn, he met Midorikawa, whose strange tale he later told his son.
- Midorikawa (緑川?) A jazz pianist, his family name means "Green River". According to the tale of Haida's father, he only played after placing a small bag on the piano, carried a heavy burden, and could see the color aura of people.
- Chapters 1–3
Tsukuru Tazaki is a 36-year-old man whose defining features are his love of train stations and the fact his four best friends all ceased to speak to him during his sophomore year at university. As he explains to his new girlfriend Sara Kimoto, they were nicknamed Ao, Aka, Shiro, and Kurono (Japanese for: Mr Blue, Mr Red, Miss White, and Miss Black). They used to do everything together like the five digits of a hand, but gave him no explication the day they rejected him.
- Chapters 4–6
After overcoming that loss and suicidal impulses, Tazaki befriends Haida at university. They start doing everything together, and listen to classical music such as Liszt's Years of Pilgrimage. One evening, Haida tells him a strange story that happened to his father: how he met a pianist named Midorikawa who claimed to be marked for death. Later that night, Tazaki has a strange erotic dream involving both Shiro and Kurono before they morph on climax into Haida. Tazaki wonders whether it was all a dream, but Haida won't show up for next semester.
- Chapters 7–9
Sara states that if he wants to progress in his current relationship, he needs to find out what happened to move on emotionally – and she'll help him getting started. After using the Internet and Facebook to locate his former friends, she updates Tazaki on their current whereabouts and arranges for his travel tickets.
- Chapter 10
Tazaki travels to his hometown of Nagoya and meets Ao, the former football jock who is now a successful Lexus dealer. From an apologetic Ao, he learns that Shiro had accused Tazaki of rape, prompting all communications between the friends to cease. Several years later she was strangled in an unsolved murder case.
- Chapter 11
Several days later, Tazaki arranges to meet Aka, now a trainer of corporate warriors. A successful but deeply unhappy man, Aka tells him that Shiro's story did not stack up at the time, and that Shiro seemed to have lost her love for life long before she died. Aka himself has issues, having belatedly realized after a failed marriage that he is gay, and feeling rejection from the people of Nagoya, including Ao, who dislike his somewhat shady business. Tazaki reassures Aka that he still cares for him and departs.
- Chapters 12–15
After discussing his findings with Sara, Tazaki decides he has to know the rest of the story. To do so he must visit the only other surviving member of the friendship group, Kurono, who now lives in Finland. While preparing for the visit, Tazaki goes to buy presents for Kurono's children and sees Sara hand in hand with a middle-aged man, smiling in a way she never did with Tazaki.
- Chapters 16–17
Filled not with jealousy, but with sadness, Tazaki, with the help of Sara's friend Olga, tracks down Kurono for an unannounced visit. Kurono, now a potter married to famous Finnish potter Edvard Haatainen, reveals that Shiro, who she prefers to call Yuzuki, was mentally ill. The rape accusation against Tazaki was a fabrication, and Tazaki was cut off from the group as a way of enabling Shiro to deal with her problems, which included an eating disorder. Kurono also reveals that she was in love with Tazaki, and that the group believed he was the strongest emotionally which is why he could deal with being cut-off. This revelation gives lie to Tazaki's own perception of himself as plain and colourless.
- Chapters 18–19
Tazaki returns to Japan a wiser man. Against Kurono's advice, he decides to press Sara on whether she is seeing someone else. Sara says she will need three days to reply. After a late-night profession of love by phone-call, the novel ends with Tazaki still waiting.
- US hardcover (12 August 2014), 386 pages (of 400), Knopf, ISBN 978-0-385-35210-9
- UK hardcover (12 August 2014), 298 pages (of 304), Harvill Secker, ISBN 978-1-84655-833-7
- CA hardcover (12 August 2014), 386 pages (of 400), Bond Street, ISBN 978-0-385-68183-4
- Large-print paperback (12 August 2014), 464 pages (of 480), Random House Large Print, ISBN 978-0-8041-9453-2
- US ebook (12 August 2014), 386 pages (of 400), Knopf, ISBN 978-0-385-35211-6
- UK ebook (12 August 2014), 298 pages (of 304), Vintage Digital, ISBN 978-1-4481-9095-9
- CA ebook (12 August 2014), 208 pages (of 210), Bond Street, ISBN 978-0-385-68184-1
- Compact disc (12 August 2014), read by Bruce Locke, Random House Audio, ISBN 978-0-8041-6673-7
- Audio download (12 August 2014), read by Bruce Locke, Random House Audio, ISBN 978-0-8041-6674-4
All editions use US spelling. The UK edition also apply to Australia (12 August 2014), New Zealand (15 August 2014), India (27 August), and similar territories. The first-print editions contain a sheet of stickers (intended to customize the book jacket). The extra ISBN 978-1-84655-886-3 is a limited, 100-copy "signed edition" 240-page hardcover (announced as of 15 September 2014[ref] for 18 September 2014).
- Piano music of Franz Liszt – Années de pèlerinage (Years of Pilgrimage). Among the collection of music "Première année: Suisse" (First year: Switzerland) Chapter 8, the piece “Le Mal du Pays” (Homesickness) appears to be an important motif.
- Morris Louis – paintings of “Pillar of Fire” is used on the cover.
- Press reports calling it his 14th novel were not accurate: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki is Murakami's 13th novel (counting from his 1st Hear the Wind Sing to his 12th 1Q84).
- Press reports claiming that "1 million copies vanished from bookstores throughout Japan the day it went on sale" or that "the novel sold over one million copies its first week in Japan" were not accurate: one week after release, the publisher only reported one million copies printed (not sold). One month after release, the publisher claimed one million copies sold during that month. Nine months after release, point-of-sale information firm Oricon certified 985,000 copies sold.
- The color ao (青?, "blue, blue-green") is often pronounced ou in names, hence this surname's romanization being "Oumi" instead of "Aomi".
- Kurono means "Black Meadow" or "Black Field", from kuro (黒?, "black, dark") and no (埜?, "meadow, dry field"). And Haida means "Gray Paddy" or "Gray Field", from hai (灰?, "gray, ash") and da (田?, "paddy, wet field"). Explaining them as "Black Field" and "Gray Field" would hide the original difference.
- "When it comes to publishing Haruki Murakami in English, nothing is lost in translation", Asahi Shimbun AJW, 15 May 2013: "The novel, which has sold more than 1 million copies since its release in April, is Murakami's first in three years."
- "Murakami's 'Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki' tops U.S. bestsellers list", Reuters, 21 August 2014: "‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’, the latest novel from Japanese author Haruki Murakami, topped the U.S. bestsellers list on Thursday [...] Hardcover Fiction [...] Week ended Aug. 17, 2014, powered by Nielsen BookScan [...]"
- "Best Sellers: Hardcover Fiction" (sales for the week ending 16 August 2014), The New York Times, 26 August 2014 (31 August 2014 in print)
- (Japanese) "Haruki Murakami's new work to be published in April", Yomiuri Shimbun, 18 February 2013.
- (Japanese) "Haruki Murakami's new novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, to be released April, 12", MSN Sankei News, 15 March 2013.
- (Japanese) "Murakami's new novel will be released April 12th! The mystery of “Colorless” “Tsukuru Tazaki” “Pilgrimage” Special Feature", on Bungeishunjū's weekly Bunshun website, 11 April 2013.
- (Japanese) "Frenzy over Haruki Murakami's new novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage", MSN Sankei News, 10 April 2013.
- (Japanese) "Haruki Murakami's first new novel in three years, 500,000 copies already sold", MSN Sankei News, 22 April 2013.
- (Japanese) "Haruki Murakami: “While I was writing it became a novel.” A message about his new work", MSN Sankei News, 28 February 2013.
- (Japanese) "Top secret mysterious contents of Haruki's new work, 500,000 copies sold before the release", Yomiuri Shimbun, 9 April 2013.
- (Japanese) "Bookstores bustling with copies of Haruki Murakami's mysterious new work", Post-Seven News, 11 April 2013, retrieved 25 April 2013.
- (Japanese) "Haruki Murakami's new work goes on sale at midnight, fans excited", Asahi Shimbun, 12 April 2013, retrieved 28 April 2013.
- (Japanese) "The Haruki effect, a classic piece appeared in the novel, sold out", Asahi Shimbun, 20 April 2013, retrieved 28 April 2013.
- (Japanese) "How do booksellers sell Haruki Murakami? Enjoy Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage more", Nikkei Business, 26 April 2013, retrieved 28 April 2013.
- "Murakami's "Colorless Tazaki" becomes bestseller for 2013", press agency Kyodo News (via Archive.org), 3 December 2013: "Writer Haruki Murakami's new novel ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’ was the best-selling book in Japan during the 12 month period through November, selling an estimated 985,000 copies, according to information company Oricon Inc. [...] Novels were strong in the reporting period -- from Nov. 19, 2012 and Nov. 17, 2013."
- "Hundreds queue for new Murakami novel", The Bookseller, 12 August 2014
- "The new Harry Potter? Book-lovers queue for midnight launch of new Haruki Murakami novel", London Evening Standard, 12 August 2014
- "Bookstores celebrate the release of Haruki Murakami's newest novel 'Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage'", The Christian Science Monitor, 11 August 2014
- "English translation of Murakami's latest novel hits U.S. bookstores", The Japan Times, 12 August 2014
- "Sandra Brown's 'Mean Streak' tops U.S. bestsellers list", Reuters, 28 August 2014: "Hardcover Fiction [...] 2. "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage," by Haruki Murakami [...] Week ended Aug. 24, 2014, powered by Nielsen BookScan [...]"
- "Louise Penny's 'The Long Way Home' tops U.S. bestsellers list", Reuters, 4 September 2014: "Hardcover Fiction [...] 3. "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage," by Haruki Murakami [...] Week ended Aug. 31, 2014, powered by Nielsen BookScan [...]"
- "Lee Child's 'Personal' debuts at top of U.S. bestsellers list", Reuters, 11 September 2014: "Hardcover Fiction [...] 10. "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage," by Haruki Murakami [...] Week ended Sept. 7, 2014, powered by Nielsen BookScan [...]"
- "Best Sellers: Hardcover Fiction" (sales for the week ending 23 August 2014), The New York Times, 1 September 2014 (7 September 2014 in print)
- "Best Sellers: Hardcover Fiction" (sales for the week ending 30 August 2014), The New York Times, 8 September 2014 (14 September 2014 in print)
- "Best Sellers: Hardcover Fiction" (sales for the week ending 6 September 2014), The New York Times, 15 September 2014 (21 September 2014 in print)
- "Murakami at Edinburgh", The Bookseller, 26 August 2014: "Japanese author Haruki Murakami launched his latest novel at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this weekend with two sell-out events for fans at the 600-capacity Baillie Gifford Theatre."
- "London fans in 18-hour queue for Murakami", The Bookseller, 1 September 2014: "Fans queued for up to 18 hours to meet Haruki Murakami for the last stop on his first book tour in 10 years. / The book lovers began queuing outside Waterstones Piccadilly in London from 5pm on Friday (29th August) to meet their much-admired author at 11am the following day for a book signing. / Publishers at Harvill Secker told The Bookseller that 400 people were waiting diligently in line by 5a.m. and by 7a.m. Waterstones booksellers had to close the queue because it was too long."
- (Japanese) "最速レビュー。村上春樹『色彩を持たない多崎つくると、彼の巡礼の年』に驚いた", Excite.co.jp, 12 April 2013, retrieved 28 April 2013.
- (Japanese) Publisher's page on Bungeishunjū's HonNoHanashi Web
- Thinking of Tsukuru Tazaki (working blog of the book's translators)
- Press reviews (about the original edition)
- "Haruki Murakami's new novel challenges us to confront our pasts", Asahi Shimbun AJW, 15 April 2013
- "In ‘Tsukuru Tazaki’, Murakami once again shifts his point of view", The Japan Times, 21 April 2013
- "‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki’ is an imperfect work but one of Haruki Murakami's most important", Asahi Shimbun AJW, 16 March 2014
- Press reviews (about the English edition)
- (Select long-form critiques, grouped by country sorted by chronology.)
- "Haruki Murakami's familiar tale of a man's odd past and his empty present", The Observer (at The Guardian), 27 July 2014 (28 July in print)
- "Friends Reunited", Literary Review, 1 August 2014
- "Murakami returns with a harmonious blend of naivety and riddling sophistication", The Independent, 1 August 2014
- "A teenage falling-out colours a young man's future in this suspenseful new novel", Financial Times, 1 August 2014
- "Murakami drops magic for realism in this tale of a lonely Tokyo engineer", The Spectator, 2 August 2014
- "Little claim to interest", The Daily Telegraph, 2 August 2014
- "Full of ambiguity and sex - all Murakami's signature flourishes are here", The Guardian, 6 August 2014
- "Murakami's bestseller translated at last", The Register, 31 August 2014
- "Haruki Murakami's New Novel of Memory and Mystery", Newsweek, 3 August 2014
- "Deep Chords", The New York Times, 5 August 2014 (10 August in print)
- "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage", San Francisco Chronicle, 6 August 2014
- "Haruki Murakami is an avatar for alienation", Chicago Tribune, 6 August 2014
- "Murakami's understated triumph", Salon, 6 August 2014
- "A young man's friends shun him in Haruki Murakami's great new novel", The Miami Herald, 8 August 2014
- "Haruki Murakami's 'Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki' paints haunting picture", Los Angeles Times, 10 August 2014
- "The Mystery of Murakami", The Atlantic, 13 August 2014
- "Haruki Murakami's pilgrimage infused with the spirit of wabi-sabi", The Australian, 9 August 2014
- "Through colourful doors of perception", The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 August 2014
- "Haruki Murakami's new book peels back the layers of friendship", The Japan Times, 9 August 2014 (10 August in print)
- "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage: dull, indeed", The Globe and Mail, 15 August 2014
- "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage", National Post, 29 August 2014
- Other reviews (about the original edition)
- Story analysis at Sgt. Tanuki
- Plot analysis at Neojaponisme
- Thematic review at Yukari Peerless
- Book analysis at Contemporary Japanese Literature
- "Literary looking glass: 4 Murakami fans – 4 perspectives on latest novel" at Asahi Shimbun AJW
- Other reviews (about the English edition)
- 'Lost in Translation' review at Foxing Quarterly
- Review and meta-review at How to Japanese
- Review, meta-review, 80 int'l links at Complete Review