Hardcover, 387 pages
Published August 12th 2014 by Knopf Publishing Group
I am a Murakami fan and have been since before it became a fashionable thing to be. I don’t know who introduced me to him or how I happened to pick one of his books but I was a devout fan after I read Kafka on the Shore. I didn’t totally get it but I loved the fact that it totally bewildered me. I have yet to read all his works, six or so of them remain but I did read 1Q84 this year and now I have read his latest Tsukuru Tazaki and I don’t know. I loved the first two books of 1Q84 but was largely unimpressed by the ending. Tsukuru Tazaki, on the other hand, I liked in bits and pieces.
I felt that the buildup was great; I was completely immersed in Tsukuru’s emotional anguish at being cut out of the group. I thought the moments of crystal introspection were beautiful. The graphic sex, however, felt, gratuitous but I realized its place in the narrative after the reveal. I did feel like the narrative thread with Haida went nowhere and I would have honestly liked to see something happen. I also was not a fan of Sara. I didn’t understand what the attraction was and somehow this seems like i am trying to force a conventional narrative on a writer famed for anything but, BUT I needed more in terms of their relationship as it is the catalyst which leads to Tsukuru’s pilgrimage. I mean, if she wasn’t committed to the relationship, why would she give him the list of things to do. I did not like that. I won’t go out with you unless and until you confront your past. Meh. Isn’t it the past that has made Tsukuru into the person he is?
And the repetition also annoyed me.The last bit of the novel is a reiteration of the entire book, regurgitating, unnecessarily, stuff that we have just read. Even the big reveal, the reason why Tsukuru was cut out of the group is disappointing. There’s a lack of tension, a lack of conflict….kind of like running in a race and finally getting to the end line and being told there was no race after all, people were playing a prank on you.
So yeah, definitely not one of my favourite of Murakami’s works. But I have six more books to read by him and hopefully by the time I’m done, he’ll have written one I can wholly enjoy.
Though I do wonder if the book reads differently and has a different effect in Japanese. Maybe there are cultural nuances that are important and missing in this translation–not because of the translator but because some things are just not translatable.