Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. Vintage; 2006. 480 pages. Paperback/Softcover.
Oh Murakami, where do I even begin? So far, I have loved every book I have by Mr. Murakami. There is something in the way he writes that simply draws me in and holds me tight.
I can completely understand how his style might not appeal to everyone. It's very different, and I can understand the arguments saying that it's slow, boring, or too philosophical; it's understandable. But that's what I love about Murakami. he can write these incredibly stunning novels where at times it feels like absolutely nothing is happening, yet at the same time there is so much occurring. His writing is the ultimate calming presence; it really allows me to just stop, breathe, and calmly read a book. In my opinion, you can't rush through reading one of his books. Rather, you have to savor each word, each glance and movement of a character.
But, I digress, let us move on to this specific review...
Kafka on the Shore, as you can probably guess, was truly wonderful. We are introduced to the main two characters early on: Kafka Tamura, a teenage boy who decides it is time for him to leave home and embark on his own life journey, and Nakata, an elder gentleman who lives a very simplistic life, but is suddenly called away from this normalcy to embark on his own important journey. Along the way, both characters meet a wonderful cast of supporting characters, each with their own unique personality and outlook on life. Nakata and Kafka are drawn together in a not-so-obvious way, and their paths intertwine in an offbeat manner, resulting in the unveiling of a personal discovery of themselves.
As always, the characters Murakami brings to life are extraordinarily dynamic and have extremely unique personalities and ways of looking at life. He creates characters that are at the same very relatable, but also just different enough that we stay intrigued.
Murakami does wonderful work of blending reality with the metaphysical, doing so in such a way that they work hand-in-hand to create a unique narrative that keeps you hooked at every moment.
This novel is extremely blunt, yet also incredibly secretive. There's no shying away from sexuality, violence, or heavy philosophical debates. However, there's always something left unspoken, almost as if the reader is the one that should be left to decide what the true meaning of something is, or why certain things happened. It's an extremely addicting quality, and one that must be executed very carefully in order to be successful. Luckily, this particular instance was very successful. It's a thinking book, and a darn good one at that.
Also, there are talking cats. I think that speaks for itself.
Kafka on the Shore will be receiving five stars from me due to its beautiful prose, extraordinary plot, and delve into the philosophical aspects of life. If you have never had the chance to read Murakami, I highly suggest you do that. Norwegian Wood is also wonderful, and I highly recommend, as well as 1Q84, though it's a bit of a longer read; if you're looking for a short, more simplistic introduction to Murakami then I would highly suggest Norwegian Wood. Happy reading!