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I was lucky enough to read a number of good and informative books on Japan in 2014, but also read my share of clunkers.

At the top of that list is Haruki Murakami’s “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage.” It is woefully insipid, probing the limits of banality while making me wonder if body snatchers have made off with the author of the excellent “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” and someone else has taken over the franchise. “Colorless” is mercifully short and doesn’t linger in the imagination because there is no depth to reflect on and the listless characters are monochrome. This summer I also slogged through “1Q84,” more vapid noodling to nowhere, flaccid prose stretching for endless pages, penance for anyone still harboring hopes for the novelist that once was.

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