Haruki Murakami is known for his stylistic innovation of the plot-blends in the aleatory nature of the situations and simplistic characters. His characters work in record stores, as school teachers, engineers living their simple lives with rigid and intense routine. They have a passion for jazz music, obsess over suicide, cleaning, ironing and going for long runs or swimming.
They meet somebody, find something or receive a strange phone call and then they undertake a journey, which is both geographical and metaphysical, away from traditional Japanese setting to the other end of globe. They solve mysteries of their past, seek answers and in the process, open their hearts to unexpected people and philosophize on life, love and relationships. On their journey, they meet talking cats and crows, man in sheep’s costume, an elephant which adds the element of magic to his stories.There is a lot of sex and sometimes the descriptions of it can make your skin crawl. However, the violence and sexual abuse add intensity to his novels. As he says "The violence and sex abuse are a kind of stimulation for the story. I don’t like to write them but I have to for the story’s sake."
The novel doesn’t have a sound conclusion or happily ever after. Murakami’s novels open ups the debates about human nature. On the surface the seemingly calm, uncomplicated, colorless and dispassionate people can carry within themselves complex ideas, emotions, anxieties and insecurities.
As he says in the blind willow sleeping women, “I sometimes think that people’s hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what’s at the bottom. All you can do is imagine by what comes floating to the surface every once in a while.” This novel particularly focuses on the darker recesses of consciousness, a different shade of the colorless. His wet dreams in which he always ejaculates in Shiro, one of his abandoning friends, and Shiro’s pregnancy after the whole incident happened hints towards the fact that seemingly ‘colorless Tsukuru’ actually raped Shiro. It also leaves the reader hanging on to the very basic questions as to whether Sara chose him or the older man she was dating. Did Tsukuru commit suicide in order to hold on to Sara because in that moment she didn’t belong to him or to the older man and he could still claim her. The role of Sara could only be of a device through which Tsukuru interrogates his own consciousness.
These thoughts linger in the mind of the reader. It leaves us with more questions than answers which in a way reflect on the nature of life, the very impossibility of finding all the answers. Here, the search serves as a metaphor. Someone who can go on with the search has a possibility of being happy. The search gives his characters meaning and that is why most of his characters are searching for something be it a cat, sheep or some answers.
The book, although has all the characteristics of a typical Murakami novel but it is also different as he moves away from his typical magical realist style, limiting it to only the story that Haida recounts about his father and Midorikawa. The story relies more on psychological realism. Most of the action happens inside the brain or recollected during his conversations with Sara. This shift in style also makes it a darker and more intense experience.