5 stars out of 5. And I decided to delve into another Murakami book. Kafka on the Shore is the second Haruki Murakamai book that I read. To be honest, I don’t know where to start with this book. There are a lot of things that needs to be discussed for it touched a lot of topics. And it is also the most complex book that I read. Based on my experience with his books, Murakami is an author that when you read his books you really have to commit yourself to the book. He’s not an author whose novel you can just read in one sitting and that’s just it.
Murakami’s works demands to be digested and think-through. Murakami will make you think. Murakami’s style of writing, for me, is something that is different from all the other authors. I don’t know how to put it, but I believe it is on how he writes and delivers his message to the readers. He works in a quirky kind of way that tickles the imagination and the thoughts that you have after reading his book will stay on your mind for a very long time. His books are not for everyone, as other may find his styles very confusing and unrealistic and his way is somewhat unconventional. But for me, those are the reasons why I like him more. He’s the only author, for me, where confusion seems to be a treat. The way he play with words is so addicting for me.
To give a brief background about the book, the novel is about 15-year old Kafka Tamura, who left their house in Tokyo and ends up in Takamatsu, in south Japan, in search of his mother and sister and also himself and also to escape the prophecy that he will kill his father and sleep with both his mother and sister. He ended up in a library where the rest of the story happened. Unbeknownst to Kafka, his life is somewhat connected to a certain Mr. Nakata, who as a child lost his entire memory about his past after a coma he had during World War II. He ended up as mentally challenged growing up but he was given the gift to talk to cats. He receives subsidy from the government and lives in an apartment whose payment comes from his share of inheritance from his parents being administered by his brothers. And as a part-time he helps his neighborhood in locating their lost cats and in return they give him a certain amount as a reward. And on the rest of the book the author will take you on a journey through philosophy, literature, art and classical music while traversing through the path of both Kafka and Nakata. And along the way they meet people that helped them shape their future.
The author will take you a to a world where the famous guy on the logo of KFC, Colonel Sanders is a an overseer, where Johnnie Walker is a guy who eats hearts of cats and collect their souls to make a flute, where fishes and leeches fall from the sky and where two worlds of reality and supernatural intertwine, that of the living and of the dead and how are they connected and I also like how the author made use of two strong characters and how they evolved throughout the story. The connection between the Nakata and Kafka is very strong. The author presented a complex but balanced story. He also provided elaborate and vivid description of the setting and the character’s emotions that made the book believable. From the first page, the author drew me in into this weird world. I like how that author made the story like a fragment that the readers needs to tie together. “Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back. That’s part of what it means to be alive. But inside our heads – at least that’s where I imagine it – there’s a little room where we store those memories. A room like the stacks in this library. And to understand the workings of our own heart we have to keep on making new reference cards. We have to dust things off every once in awhile, let in fresh air, change the water in the flower vases. In other words, you’ll live forever in your own private library.” ― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore The story tackled the complexities of the afterlife and of responsibility. I liked how Murakami made those topics work together. He discussed on the books that each one of us has innate responsibilities. Each of us is delivered to this world with a role to play. Each of us needs to live to the responsibilities that our families, community and even ourselves has given us. He discussed that those responsibilities comes with either a price but it all depends on how you see and how will you take it.
Murakami again proved to me that he is a brilliant author. He presented here an engaging novel worth to be reread numerous times. The book gave me a unique literary experience. It challenged me intellectually. This is book of magic realism at its best. Murakami really does wonder with his words. The only shortcoming that I experienced with the book is how it ended. Some reviewers are right when they said that after you read the book, it seems like you’ll be left with a lot of questions than answers. I demand to know more about what happened to the main protagonist. There are some loose ends that were not closed.
But warning to those who would want to read the book, it contains explicit contents and discusses topics about incest.
Bizarre and unique.
I love this book. I totally recommend it.
5 stars out of 5.
(The beautiful illustrations above are from Lisa Ito. Visit her site at: http://rittlerion.com/ito.html)