Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
Word has leaked that Haruki Murakami’s trusted translator Philip Gabriel is aiming to finish translating Haruki Murakami’s latest novel by the end of this year. That means that the English version of “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” will probably hit bookstores in the first half of 2014 on August 12. For those who don’t want to twiddle their thumbs for 8 – 12 more months, take intensive Japanese lessons or reread “Norweigian Wood,” I’ve put together a preparation guide to help you begin to immerse yourself in Murakami’s latest world, ahead of its English release.

If you’re familiar with Murakami you’ll know that his novels are loaded with illusions and references to music, pop culture and literature – everything from Leoš Janáček’s Sinfonietta to John Ford westerns and Raymond Chandler. It’s easy to breeze through his novels without being familiar with these references. But knowing them might possibly create new connections, setting the stage for a deeper reading and enhanced appreciation.

What you’ll find below is not spoilers of any kind. Rather, I’ve put together a collection of music and literature that are all referenced in the Japanese novel (“Shikisai wo Motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to, Kare no Junrei no Toshi”).

Music

Années de pèlerinage (Years of Pilgrimage) is a set of three suites for solo piano by the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. You’ll want to listen to Le mal du pays (Homesickness) as played by russian pianist Lazar Berman.

Round Midnight” the 1944 jazz standard by pianist Thelonious Monk. The song is also sometimes called “Round About Midnight”

Viva Las Vegas,” the 1963 song (not the movie) recorded by Elvis Presley.

Don’t Be Cruel,” the 1956 song recorded by Elvis Presley.

Literature

shikisai-GeorgesBatailleThe work and key concepts of Georges Bataille – French intellectual and literary figure from the early 1900s.

shikisai-DoorsofPerceptionThe Doors of Perception – a 1954 book by Aldous Huxley detailing his experiences with the psychedelic drug mescaline (similar to LSD).

shikisai-Lost_worldThe Lost World – a 1912 novel by Conan Doyle. The plot involves an expedition to a plateau in the Amazon basin of South America where prehistoric animals roam freely. The title was reused by Michael Crichton in his 1995 novel The Lost World, a sequel to Jurassic Park.

Quotes

“Ideas are like beards; men do not have them until they grow up.” – Voltaire

“Kitchen staff instinctively hate dining-room staff and all of them hate the customer.” – Arnold Wesker.

BONUS

If you want to knock yourself out you can familiarize yourself with the British dramatist’s play The Kitchen (1957).