Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

From the back blurb of Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami: Kafka on the Shore is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search from his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom.

As their paths converge, and the reasons for that convergence become clear, Haruki Murakami enfolds readers in a world where cats talk, fish fall from the sky, and spirits slip out of their bodies to make love or commit murder. Kafka on the Shore displays one of the world's great storytellers at the peak of their powers.

My take

Spoilers! It was unfortunate that I read this after Wind-up Bird Chronicle. But I found the storyline much much faster and much tighter, and enjoyed it. Although the many parallels to Wind-up Bird (in symbolisms and characters) can be a bit much. (I suggest you space reading Murakami, or you will get sick of hearing about cats and wells and mother-son tandems).

Anyway, I particularly liked how the story was set up - two seemingly separate characters who by some strange coincidences and events are connected. (And I was shocked to realize that it was someone close to Kafka who was killing all those cats that Nakata was talking to! Que horror!)

The talking cats, the falling fish, a man-woman ... all these are taken in stride and I tried not to be too surprised at how the strange are considered "normal." That is what is normal in Murakami's world, an ability to go beyond the expected and tie these into a coherent storyline.


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© guiltless readingMaira Gall