Japanese author, Haruki Murakami's latest novel is a step towards softer toned writing than his previous controversial storylines. Famed for pushing the boundaries in artistic movements through his work, in Japan's literary circle he is rather unfairly labelled as being too pro-West. It's difficult to imagine where such criticism could have stemmed from because his novels are anything but too Westernised - they explore themes of loneliness, there is some underlying exploration of scientific subjects of matter, and a lot of the ideas' the German author, Franza Kafka, brought to limelight in literature. One of the leading contemporary novelists, with Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Murakami has dived into one of my most favourite topics - adolescence and the brutal effects, unexplainable loss of friends can have on you. After touching on cats behaving anything but cat-like, toads and sheep, he brings to us the endearing misfit protagonist, Tsukuru Tazaki.
There is a handful of subjects here that seems like the book could be headed towards a Man Booker nomination - confusing dreams (if they were dreams), a European trip, hitting puberty, being abandoned by friends because he grows into a successful railway engineer and moves to Tokyo, while his friends are still stuck in their sordid pasts, of trying to belong when there is no sense of colour in you, comedy involving the state of entrepreneurship in Japan and what seems like a very suspense-filled mysterious train journey for the plot, where you only understand the puzzles as you reach the end of the book. Tsuruku seems to have to witness the many rings of hell as he comes of age, because he is both independent from flaws and virtues. Good-looking, well-off, talented, not interested in arts, has no particularly special hobby, except for putting together railway carriages, he is a sensitive and reserved soul.
Murakami's novels have such intense fandom that booklovers queue up from midnight to grab a copy. Intelligent, dabbling in fantasy and eccentric, this novel is all of those, as Tsukuru begins a quest to find out why his closest friends one day decided that they no longer wanted to be friends with him, without any explanation whatsover. The four friends each have a colour for a surname - red, black, blue and white - something that has always kept Haruki at bay from being too involved even though they were his best friends. As infuriating as his cowardice was in not asking for an explanation because they meant the world to him, it's tragic to think that all of this could lead him to contemplate death and feel a sense of nothingness. His love for trains drives him forward, he loves to ponder for hours about how he can refurbish and make them better. The anguish doesn't prevent him for completing his studies in college, because this incident of banishment from the group occurs in his sophomore year. Instead his passion for railways drives him to go ahead, with his life. If you love Muraki and literally cannot wait for a good book to drop in your lap, then this would be the perfect read this autumn.
This review was written by Fashion Girl