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Fall Reads: Haruki Murakami

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After the metaphysical fireworks of his epic 1Q84, Haruki Murakami scales back with a deceptively simple novel about a train-station designer whose girlfriend sends him on a mission to uncover why his four closest friends suddenly cut off all contact 15 years ago. To solve the mystery, Tsukuru Tazaki visits both his native Nagoya, Japan, and Finland, provoking a self-examination whose subtle revelations profoundly alter his sense of identity.

More straightforward than the author’s usual fare, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki sold more than a million copies in its first week on sale in Japan last year. Yet Murakami retains his trademark feel for the surreal with an evocative account of the internal tectonics triggered by investigating one’s willfully buried past. The unadorned novel feels as clear and clean as a glass of water, and the crisp poetry of its emotional insight seems all the more refreshing for it.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, published by Knopf, came out in August.

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