There is more than a fortnight to wait for Haruki Murakami's new novel, "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage," but today fans can get a taste at Slate. A review of the book that had been posted by The Guardian early Monday has been removed because it breached an embargo.
Slate's excerpt includes a story within a story within a story: A man in his early 20s relates a story told to him by his father; one of the people in that story tells a slightly unbelievable story of his own.
On one level, the excerpt plays with how we read through a narrative frame. Who is speaking? How far removed is the tale — and at what distance does it become legend?
On another, it asks philosophical questions about the nature of reality and artistic creation. One man in the story plays jazz piano brilliantly — the man observing him thinks he's significantly talented. But artistic talent isn't that simple, the piano player explains:
"You look good, attract attention, and if you're lucky, you make some money. Women flock to you. In that sense, having talent's preferable to having none. But talent only functions when it's supported by a tough, unyielding physical and mental focus. All it takes is one screw in your brain to come loose and fall off, or some connection in your body to break down, and your concentration vanishes, like the dew at dawn.... If talent's the foundation you rely on, and yet it's so unreliable that you have no idea what's going to happen to it the next minute, what meaning does it have?"
Could the author really believe talent is so ephemeral? When "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage" was published in Japan in 2013, it sold more than 1 million copies in its first week. The bestselling novelist is acclaimed around the world: He's been awarded Prague's Franz Kafka Prize, the Jerusalem Prize, Spain's Catalunya Prize and Japan's Tanizaki Prize.