Posts Tagged ‘Japanese’

Kafka on the Shore is about a young teenager named Kafka Tamura who runs away from his father in search of his unknown mother and sister. Parallel to Kafka’s story is that of Nakata, an elder who lost most of his intelligence during a mysterious incident he went through as a child. As a result, Nakata gained the ability to speak to cats, and he finds people’s missing cats as a job. Although these two characters never meet, they are somehow related by a force beyond this world.

The Structure of Kafka on the Shore is very creative. Kafka and Nakata’s stories are narrated parallel to each other, and they run alternatively. Kafka, the runaway, narrates his own story in the first person. Nakata’s story, on the other hand, is narrated through the third person, but that narration, in a subtle way, approximates to Nakata’s own manner of talking and thinking. Since Nakata’s accident made him lose a part of his intelligence and maybe made him less eloquent, the author gave him a voice through the third person, but personalized it to suit Nakata himself. I found that very impressive.

Kafka on the Shore is a dreamy novel, yet it is sophisticated and modern. In this story, characters encounter ghosts, it rains fish and leeches, and the characters visit completely different worlds, such as a place hanging between life and death. Sometimes the characters’ subconscious minds narrate parts of the story. Murakami’s writing makes the reader actually live in his dreamlike world. He very well manages to put you in the situation of his characters, and when you begin reading the stories of those two characters, especially Kafka’s, you will soon drift inside their worlds and share their feelings and thought.

Kafka on the Shore is rich with allusions to old theories, Greek Gods, literature, and Franz Kafka. Not only that: Kafka is haunted by an oedipal prophecy during his escape. The supporting the characters in Kafka on the Shore are very memorable; they stand out. The theme of this novel is gloomy and depressing, but it has a great sense of humor in some parts.

Kafka on the Shore is not the type of book which one will forget after reading. Although I found some parts of the novel tedious, I find it is sophisticated and grand. There are many mysteries still remaining in this book, and Murkami makes the reader feel there are elements blended in the book way over the top of one’s head.

Haruki Murakami writes in a sort of Kafkaesque style, and his world is fully believable and livable. If you would like to escape, this is the book to read. Not everyone might enjoy Kafka on the Shore; however, there is no denying  Murkami has a dexterous hand at writing, and his technique is worth mentioning.

One review said, “…[Kafka on the Shore] attempts to tap into the same fevered dream-logic as Franz Kafka’s novels and stories, but unlike those metaphysical dead-ends, Murakami’s narratives offer his characters a way out. (Though never a way back.)” —Scott Blackwood, Austin American-Statesman

I find this true; Murakami’s not-absolutely-innocent characters are spared, for they are only human, and they have a second chance to live their lives all over again and start from the beginning.

Buy from Amazon

Haruki Murakami’s website

New York Times review

New Yorker review


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