Have I changed or have you changed?

Dear Mr. Haruki,

Tomorrow is my 21th birthday and I have just finished “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage”. I still remember when I was still 16, I picked up your novel for the first time, which was “Kafka on the Shore”, and could not miss a single novel of yours to this day.

It is amazing what a couple of years could mean. I grew from an ordinary high school student with very gloomy and pessimistic outlook on life to a “promising and ambitious” junior student at Peking University, wanting to make something out of my limited time on this planet.

Right now, I look at all your novels on my shelf, thinking all these stories and ideas constitute what I used to be and what I am now. Kafka led me to live a self-contained life. “Norwegian Wood” illustrated for me how an ascetic life can lead to freedom. And “Dance! Dance! Dance!” showed me how enchanting the “other world” might be.

But when I got older and I was reading “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” earlier this month, I feel like your words became very different. Instead of a very bleak world view, I sensed a very bright and encouraging stance taken by Tsukuru Tazaki in the end, and very cheerful mindset by a lot of people in the story.

I wonder, is it me that have changed a lot so that I read your novel differently, or your outlook conveyed in your writings is indeed changed consciously by you. If the answer is “both,” that would also be a joyful one! 

It would be such a sweet birthday gift, if I can hear your answer! 

(潤曦、女性、20歳、学生)

Thank you for reading my books so earnestly. I appreciate your opinion and I think I was encouraged a lot.

Well, I have changed and, at the same time, you have changed. Each of us has changed in it’s own way. And a novel is a special mirror that you can look at yourself in. I am making new mirrors and you are making your new self.

Happy birthday. And keep on changing.

hm