It’s classic Murakami. I liked it more than ‘The Wind Up Bird Chronicle’ but less than ‘Kafka on the Shore’ because I thought the plot was more structured but it doesn’t show the same depth.
It has beautiful prose and uses surrealism. The common themes of isolation and human bonding are explored. References to classical music are made. It’s written in first person so we can question the reliability of the narrator. The protagonist experiences meaningful dreams that make him question his own sanity. We are just as attached to the side characters as we are to the main character. The female characters are a mix of strong-willed and frailty. The mental stability of some of the characters is pushed to the limits. The ending offers no closure and readers are left to our own judgement. All in all, it’s what I’ve come to expect from Murakami.
But this time, the plot felt like it had a definitive guide as opposed to the usual rambling prose the Murakami favours, given that whole point of the novel is geared to finding out what The Incident was years ago. The protagonist, Tsukuru, also showed greater initiative in taking control over his own future even if he needed a push from his girlfriend Sara. Unfortunately it also lacked the same emotional depth as some of his other work.
If I had to recommend a Murakami to someone who’d never read his work, I’d do Norwegian Wood first, but then I’d show them ‘Colourless Tsukuru’. The writing isn’t too difficult to follow along so I don’t think they’d get too intimidated by it but I’d emphasise that it didn’t move me in the way his other works did.
On Another Note
Let’s see if I know how to be less long-winded.