Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami

Being a big Haruki Murakami fan I am trying to make my way through all of his books. Kafka on the shore is my new favourite so far! This novel is about two people, a 15-year-old boy named Kafka Tamura who runs away from home as he doesnt get on well with his father. When he was young Kafka’s mother left home with his sister and he never saw them again. His father also came up with a dark prophecy about Kafka which he sees as his curse and wants to escape. He ends up going to a private library in Takamatsu and befriends a transgendered hemophiliac named Oshima and the aloof Miss Saeki. Kafka’s story is told in the even chapters of the book.

The odd chapters tell the story of Mr Nakata. An old man who can’t read or write due to an accident he had as a child, but he has an ability to talk to cats. Because of this ability he works part-time as a finder of missing cats. One cat he is on the hunt for takes him on a journey he never expected, on a quest far from his home. He befriends a truck-driver named Hoshino who joins him on his quest.

Although Nakata and Kafka never meet in the novel, their paths do cross. They also take separate journeys that take place in both the metaphysical plane as well as in reality.This novel deals a lot with the metaphysical, metaphors, the human subconscious, the supernatural and parallel realities. Haruki Murakami himself, says:

Kafka on the Shore contains several riddles, but there aren’t any solutions provided. Instead, several of these riddles combine, and through their interaction the possibility of a solution takes shape. And the form this solution takes will be different for each reader. To put it another way, the riddles function as part of the solution. It’s hard to explain, but that’s the kind of novel I set out to write.

This novel sure makes you think! It is beautifully written, not at all hard to follow on the surface but keeps you questioning what exactly the meaning is behind certain things. The character of Oshima takes much about metaphor in famous literary works and in reality, how so many things said and done can be taken as metaphor.. really a different way to look at things.

Now that I have finished this book I want to read it again.. I feel like I have missed so much. There is so much in this book that is not explained which is a little frustrating. There were also a few scenes in the book which I did not like (I warn you that the cat killing scene was hard to take and a little upsetting) but it was used as a metaphor and does have a deeper reason for being there other than to just gross people out. I will definitely by buying this book and I will read it again at a later date. This one, like most of Murakami’s work, is highly recommended.

Rating 5/5
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