Book review of Kafka on the Shore
This is my book review of Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. I have read “Hardboiled wonderland and the end of the world” before, as my first Murakami book. I loved that one, so I wanted to read more by the same author. So I picked up Kafka on the Shore, for my next Murakami read.
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
“Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father’s dark prophecy.
The ageing Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his pleasantly simplified life suddenly turned upside down.
As their parallel odysseys unravel, cats converse with people; fish tumble from the sky; a ghost-like pimp deploys a Hegel-spouting girl of the night; a forest harbours soldiers apparently un-aged since World War II. There is a savage kiling, but the identity of both victim and killer is a riddle – one of many which combine to create an elegant and dreamlike masterpiece.”
The description is kindly borrowed from the back of the book.
Kafka running away or towards the shore
There are a handful of storylines going on in this book. Not all of them will make equally good sense and they don’t necessarily end up being tied up nicely at the end either.
I enjoyed all the characters and the way Murakami portrays them. They all have rich backstories and inner lives, even though some are more simple than others.
With Kafka, he doesn’t always feel like a teenage boy, but as he is running away from (or towards) his father’s prophecy, we see the teenage rebellion in him. Even though he ends up perhaps not rebelling so much as accepting how things play out, deciding to play an active part in his fate.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter towards, if he is running away or towards his fate, as he becomes entangled in so many other interesting narratives and time seems to cease having any say in the matter.
Murakami and the library within the book
If I didn’t notice the amount of literary references and references to other art works in the first Murakami book I read, well, I did now! First Kafka is obviously a reference to Franz Kafka, who I must admit, I haven’t actually read anything by (yet). But Murakami seems to love Kafka so much, that he named the main character after him.
Also, Kafka discusses literature with the other people he meets throughout the book. When Kafka finds himself suddenly hanging out a lot at a pretty and privately funded library, a lot of great works are namedropped. One of the librarycustodians seem very well-read and I felt a little uneducated for not knowing the books they mentioned. Not in a bad way though, but it gave me a feeling of wanting to read those works too.
Especially to get into some more depth of the story of Kafka on the Shore, as there are so many different layers to dive into. Having a library as a place for time and narratives to be paused, reflected upon and reshaped is something Murakami does very well. I just love literary references in books, and it makes me want to journey through all the books, to know why the author put them there.
I could honestly go on and on about Haruki Murakami and how much I appreciate the way he writes. It’s so subtle, elegant, imaginative and original but still down to earth and simple. It’s like a Ghibli but in a book. Maybe it’s a cultural thing that I’m hopelessly blind to, or maybe it’s just a coincidence.
I just know, that the more Japanese literature I read, the more I seem to absolutely love it.
Let me know what you think in the comment section below – I’d love to hear from you!
If you’d like more inspiration on what to read next, feel free to check out my entire collection of book reviews right here>>