Posted in Book Review
#BookReview for Kafka on the Shore

There are two major reasons as to why I choose Kafka on the Shore as my first Murakami’s novel:

  1. The name Kafka in the title is pretty intriguing.
  2. I like stories that involve animals, and in this book, cats can speak to humans {interesting plot angle}

Written by Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore is an absorbing metaphysical mind-bender tale that is a real page-turner. This book addresses basic fundamental themes which are so simple, and they seem to be quite clichéd. One of them is that you can run from your life/problems but never escape them. Secondly, every person on the planet has a purpose and destiny that they are born to fulfil. The way the author chooses to illustrate these themes is far from simple, and to do this, Murakami shares with us two tales.

What Is It About?

The first tale is about a 15-year-old Kafka Tamura {his real name is never revealed}. He runs away from his home in Tokyo to escape a dark prophecy made by his father. Kafka then winds up in the provincial city of Takamatsu. Here he meets the cross-gender librarian of a private library, Oshima and its enigmatic owner, Mrs Saeki, who provide him with employment.

The second tale is focused on an older man called Satoru Nakata. When he was nine years old, Nakata went on a school trip in the local woods, along with his classmates. During the expedition, all the children inexplicably lost their consciousness. While all his classmates recovered their senses soon, Nakata was unconscious for a much longer duration. When he recovered, Nakata had lost all his memories, his ability to read and write, and most of his intelligence. On the upside, he acquired the ability to talk to cats. Five decades later, in the course of a cat search, Nakata lands up in the house of the sculptor Koichi Tamura. Koichi is the father of Kafka. 

Back in the first tale, Kafka falls in love with the 15-year-old ghost of Mrs Saeki and ends up having an affair with her.  Later as investigations of his father’s death intensify, Kafka retreats into a mountain hut that is owned by Oshima. Here, within the depths of the surrounding forests, he finds the entrance to a semi-real world. Meanwhile, Nakata, whose attempt to turn himself in for murder is dismissed at the police station, follows a physic urge to go westwards in the company of a truck driver, Hoshino. They arrive together in the city of Shikoku, where both the stories of Kafka and Nakata finally collide.

The Bigger Picture

The characters and elements in this book are extremely diverse and dramatic, be it Kafka, Nakata or Hoshino. From a ghost-like pimp to a Hegel quoting prostitute to soldiers who have not aged since the Second World War, characters in this book are highly intriguing. Besides, the novel also has some fascinating snippets from music, history, philosophy, Greek mythology and the totally amazing world of metaphors and metaphysics. So while these elements may not seem to have an immediate connection with each other, Murakami is successful in bringing them together with almost a poetic perfection, that makes this book really interesting and fascinating at the same time.

Though the book is heavily based on metaphysics, the writing style is so exquisite that it almost seems that we are in another world altogether, something running parallel to the one we actually live in! In fact, there are many profound statements in the book that makes you stop and ponder about your own life. So even though the storyline might seem confusing, you would still want to read ahead and find out what happened eventually.

One of the most disconnected novels that I have read in a long time, this novel is like a patchwork of scenes and conversations that seem completely unrelated. While some scenes are banal and normal, some are brutal and violent, and others are simply mesmerising. So even though all the elements of the story are unconnected and disjointed, it is easy to be bewitched by the story woven by Murakami’s story rather than to figure out how he accomplishes the bewitchment. Though a few elements come together in the end, the author still leaves quite a lot of loose ends for the reader to grasp according to his own judgment and understanding.

Analysis of The Story

I was wondering what it was in this novel that kept me hooked because nothing really happens, especially in the dramatic sense. No crazy chases or dangerous villains are chasing the heroes. In fact, the pace of the book is pretty slow, even leisurely, but it manages to grip the readers. Confusion. Thoughts. Feelings. A search for love. For better. About the meaning in life. For any meaning. And then comes the understanding that there is no meaning to any of it. That the only meaning that matters is the one we make.

After reading Kafka on the Shore, I have realized that Murakami, does not write to please. He does not care about the reading preference of the majority but puts his talent in his work, and it is completely up to the reader to appreciate/disregard his talent.

This book has been a true delight to me, also because it is one of those rare books that is narrated in the first, second and third person. It is indeed a treat for any writer who wants a unique piece to read and critique. There are many elements present in this book, from fantasy to horror to suspense to sly quiet humour. And lots of sexuality that is at the same time taboo, tender and violent. That being said, this book is not for everyone. It will only appeal to a certain section of readers.

If you are someone who requires logical answers to every incident that happens, you will come away feeling disappointed. This is because Kafka on the Shore requires a certain amount of trust on the part of the reader. And I, for one, had no difficulty in trusting the story that Murakami was narrating. But again, while I would love the fact that everyone reads this book, I know that this is not everyone’s cup of tea.

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain.
When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

Haruki Murakami • AUTHOR

Final Verdict

4/5

Overall for me, reading Kafka on the shore has been like listening to a song in a foreign language. At first, the tune and rhythm impress you. Then gradually as you understand the meaning of the words, you connect to the song. It is the flow of the mystical world that the author creates that sweeps you in, and bit by bit, the story falls into place.

But like that foreign music that you have grown to love and even understand through translations and interpretations, there will still be a part of that song that evades your understanding. Similarly, the sheer beauty of the writing and story will continue to draw a select few readers. These people will truly come away really liking this novel. I know that this although this is my first book by Murakami, I am going to read all his books. This despite their flaws because sometimes such surrender leads to pure bliss.

(P.S. Oh and also, I want Oshima to be real and to be my friend/life coach. Please?)

Shop for Haruki Murakami Merchandise

  • Murakami Loves Cats

    1,200.00

    There’s nothing we love more than home accessories inspired from literature here at Musings of a Reader. This literary mug is quirky and fun, which is why it is a perfect gift for this Valentine Day – you can buy this for yourself or for your favourite couple.

    Composition & Care

    – Ceramic
    – Dishwasher and microwave safe
    – White and glossy

    – Goods and Services Tax is charged on the product price.

    Shipping Fee
    – Each mug weighs 500 grams, which would result in a shipping fee of INR 50. This is applicable only to shipping within India.

     

    Need help with this product?

    Call or WhatsApp us

    +91 8454030051
    Mon-Sat | 9 am to 6 pm (IST)

     

     

  • Haruki Murakami Classic T-Shirt

    500.00
    Country Of Origin: India(and Proud)
    Material: 100 per cent cotton
    GSM: 180
    Wash Care: Machine wash. Wash in cold water, use mild detergent, dry in shade, do not iron directly or scrub on print, do not bleach, do not tumble dry. Dry on a flat surface as hanging may cause measurement variations.
    Standard Sizing: We follow U.S. and EU standards and our sizes do not vary by more than +/- 0.5 inches.
    Estimated Order Processing Time: 2 days
    Estimated Delivery Time:
    Metros: 3 – 5 days
    Rest of India: 4 – 7 days
    (Deliveries may take longer than usual due to COVID-19)
    Please Note: Colours may slightly vary depending on your screen brightness. Product specifications mentioned above may vary by +/- 10%.
    Need help with this product?
  • Stare At Our Wounds, Murakami

    200.00

    Make a statement with our clean-cut coasters that can bring a dash of your spirit to your chillout sessions and readathons at home. Our tough coasters are made so as to save your table from scratches and spills. After all, when you are reading your favourite book, you need a coaster to keep your drink safe and sturdy.

    As they say, eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably. Plus, if you are a fan of Murakami’s writing and quotes, do you even need an extra incentive to buy this?

    Need help with this product?

    Call or WhatsApp us

    +91 8454030051
    Mon-Sat | 9 am to 6 pm (IST)

  • I Dream by Haruki Murakami

    200.00

    Make a statement with our clean-cut coasters that can bring a dash of your spirit to your chillout sessions and readathons at home. Our tough coasters are made so as to save your table from scratches and spills. After all, when you are reading your favourite book, you need a coaster to keep your drink safe and sturdy.

    As they say, eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably. Plus, if you are a Murakami fan, do you even need an extra incentive to buy this?

    Need help with this product?

    Call or WhatsApp us

    +91 8454030051
    Mon-Sat | 9 am to 6 pm (IST)

musings_of_A_reader_literary_merchandise

There are no reviews yet.

Leave a Reply

Start typing and press Enter to search

Shopping Cart