Kafka on the Shore is only my second Murakami, but I can’t get enough! I liked this one even more than my first, Norwegian Wood. For a writer so established and well-respected in the highbrow literary world, I expected Murakami’s work to be dense and difficult, but he is a highly accessible writer who crafts unputdownable stories.
From the back cover:
Here we meet a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who is on the run, and Nakata, and aging simpleton who is drawn to Kafka for reasons that he cannot fathom. As their paths converge, acclaimed author Haruki Murakami enfolds readers into a world where cats talk, fish fall from the sky, and spirits slip out of their bodies to make love or commit murder, in what is truly a remarkable journey.
“Most things are forgotten over time. Even the war itself, the life-and-death struggle people went through, is now like something from the distant past. We’re so caught up in our everyday lives that events of the past, like ancient stars that have burned out, are no longer in orbit around our minds. There are just too many things we have to think about every day, too many new things we have to learn. New styles, new information, new technology, new terminology . . . But still, no matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away. They remain with us forever, like a touchstone.”
-Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
Kafka on the Shore reads like a dream. As the reader follows Kafka’s and Nakata’s parallel adventures, it’s nearly impossible to resist being pulled into the narrative. For me, Murakami’s writing is just weird enough to keep me interested, without being too strange to turn me away. (I will say, chapter sixteen nearly turned me away for good; it was a bit too gory for my usual reading taste, making me want to throw up and hold my cat close at the same time, but I preservered and it was worth it.) The novel seemed to slow down around the midway point, and probably could’ve handled a small edit, but the pace did eventually pick back up just in time for me to be left slightly confused by the ending. Murakami ties a few loose ends up but left many untouched; several days after finishing Kafka, I still found myself thinking about the character’s fates and searching for my understanding of the novel.
Even after reading just two Murakami novels, it’s easy to see the formula he applies to every tale (Exhibit A: Murakami bingo). From talking cats to bland male narrators to weird sex scenes, any devoted reader can pick up one of his novels and know exactly what they are getting into. 10/10 would recommend to anyone looking for an engrossing read.
Find this book on Goodreads.