Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

On the same theme, Kafka on the Shore was one of my favourite list books for 2011. I had been wanting to read it for a while anyway so I decided to go into it completely blind. I didn’t read the blurb or the information in the listing or find out anything about it from anyone else and it was an EXCELLENT idea. I don’t know if the mystique made me enjoy it more but it certainly suited the mysterious, inexplicable style of the novel and I heartily recommend you do the same. If so, STOP READING NOW. But then come back later so I can maintain my average three views per page or whatever.

 

 

 

Have you read it yet? Seriously you have to read it, it’s great! I’ll give you some more time.

 

 

 

I will now presume you have read Kafka on the Shore, wasn’t it wonderful? But even if you just sneakily skipped ahead, don’t worry, there will be no spoilers. There will NEVER EVER be any spoilers on this blog, and that is a Fay guarantee.

Kafka on the Shore is a strange and compelling novel. It follows Kafka Tamura who runs away from home at 15 under the shadow of his father’s prophecy that he will kill his father and sleep with his mother and sister. Oedipal with value added. Meanwhile Nakata, a kind simpleton, makes a living by finding lost cats by ASKING OTHER CATS where they are. That’s right, he talks to cats. Maybe that’s why I like it so much, talking to animals is a skill I’ve always wanted.

The story follows a kind of quest format as Kafka searches for his mother and Nakata follow his own strange parallel compulsions. Kafka discovers a beautiful library and a otherwordly cabin in the woods while Nakata picks up a truckie and communes with Johnnie Walker (the whiskey guy). While their journeys have distinctly physical manifestations they’re really psychological and metaphysical quests. And while these two never actually meet, their stories are intertwined and they both need each other to make their individual paths possible. I have to say that I didn’t really get it all the time, but I like that in a book. It gives me more to think about. I liked how the physical story with its matter of fact writing style, often going into matters of hygene, bodies, and bodily functions (but not gross), was juxtaposed with the higher level of metaphysical yearnings and impossible psychological realms. I have a scale of ideal magic realism ranging  from not enough (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) to plenty (Salman Rushdie). (I know it should go from too little to too much but I personally can’t get enough magic in my realism. I don’t know what that says about me.) This sits somewhere in the middle. Anyway I really really enjoyed Kafka on the Shore, I kept running home to keep reading it and it kept me thinking for ages.

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