Book Review: Haruki Murakami – Kafka On The Shore

Enthralling, thought-provoking and mind-boggling. I thought I knew what I was in for, I thought wrong. It was more, much more than I could’ve asked.

Title: Kafka On The Shore
Author: Haruki Murakami
Publisher: Vintage International 
Publish Date: Jan 3, 2006 (first published 2002)

Goodreads: 4.1/5
Barnes and Noble: 4.3/5

SYNOPSIS:

Kafka on the Shore is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for 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 his powers.

 

REVIEW:

When it comes to novels like this, I cannot follow my usual way of reviewing books, but I will try to be as organized as possible.

It’s a bit difficult to express in words. This book is just filled with so much mystery and puzzles, one after another – and the challenge is that there is no confirmation on anything anywhere in the book.

This is my first Murakami book and I have to say I am impressed. This took me 2 weeks to read, not because it was boring, but because it was so good! I kept rereading chapters over and over, dissecting the metaphors from the facts, marveling at the prose and analyzing the sequence of events.

The book ended with so many questions left unanswered. I’ve made a list of things unclear to me and I’m throwing in a few of my theories. (Don’t hesitate to give a comment as I am not sure as well of my answers)

Q1. Whose blood was on Kafka’s shirt? Did he really kill his father?

Kafka found himself with blood on his shirt at a temple somewhere in Takamatsu. He woke up having no memory of what happened for the past hours.

Meanwhile, Nakata found a black dog that led him to Johnnie Walker. Johnnie Walker told Nakata that is killing cats and making a flute out of their souls. Johnnie forces Nakata to kill him in order to save the cats. Nakata comes out of the scene with no blood on him. Later on, it is revealed that Johnnie Walker is Kafka’s father.

Theory:

It is undisclosed in the book what the connection of the two was, but obviously the blood that should have been on Nakata had been transferred to Kafka.

The boy named Crow may be behind this. Early in the book, Nakata revealed that after his accident, he never felt whole again. He says that he only has half a “shadow” or a pale shadow. If that’s the case, then the boy named Crow is Nakata’s other half and has lived in Kafka’s subconscious.

Kafka was never close with his father, and even the death of him did not faze Kafka. The night Kafka lost consciousness, the boy named Crow may have gone back to his original body and acted on Kafka’s subconscious desires. After the incident, Crow goes back to Kafka bringing the evidence of the murder with him and on to Kafka.

Q2. What is the significance to both Nakata and Miss Saiki only having a pale shadow?

Theory:

I think this is Murakami’s way of displaying a person who can do astral projection. In several points of the book, Kafka encounters Miss Saeki in a vague manner, unable to distinguish whether she was really there or not. Much like when Kafka and Miss Saeki find each other in the village beyond the forest where we all knew that Miss Saeki was already dead.

If this theory is correct, then that supports the theory about the boy named Crow – he is half the soul of Nakata that has forever traversed the world, and finds himself one day in the Kafka’s life.

Q3. Is Miss Saeki really Kafka’s mother? Is Sakura his sister?

Kafka has directly asked Miss Saeki regarding this theory; however Miss Saeki also directly denied this claim.

Theory:

As much as I hate incest as a premise of any book, I think that she is. The prophecy is a weak claim to this theory but that is where the whole incest theory revolves around. At the end of the book, Miss Saeki said that Kafka is the person in the painting. Fact is that the person in the painting was her lover. So how does it connect? The only possible reason may be is Kafka is the reincarnation of her lover which also explains her sexual attraction to Kafka.

 

More unanswered questions:

  1. Where did Nakata gain his ability to talk to cats? What really happened that day of the accident?
  2. How did Nakata gain his ability to also make weird weather phenomena? What does the fishes and leeches represent?
  3. What is the relation of the teacher during the accident and Miss Saeki?
  4. Is Sakura really Kafka’s sister?
  5. What does Johnnie Walker and Colonel Sanders represent?

 

OVERALL: 5 Stars!

Stars 5.0

When I started reading the book, I knew right away that it will full of metaphors and dreams. At some points it became hard to distinguish what was real and what was not. And it is rather more confusing not to get any answers in the end. I cri

Delightful as it was, I would not recommend this book for anyone.

To read Murakami, one needs to have an open mind and passion for classical literature (which I barely have).

Please feel free to comment down for discussions as I myself am still puzzled by this book. Huhu.

 

BONUS QUOTES:

“In traveling, a companion; in life, compassion.”

“Nature is actually kind of unnatural, in a way. And relaxation can actually be threatening.”

“Intolerance, theories cut off from reality, empty terminology, usurped ideals, inflexible systems. Those are the things that really frighten me. What I absolutely fear and loathe.

“Irony deepens a person, helps them mature. It’s the entrance to salvation on a higher plane, to a place where you can find a more universal kind of hope”

“Asking a question is embarrassing for a moment, but not asking is embarrassing for a lifetime.”

“Every object’s in flux. The Earth, time, concepts, love, life, faith, justice, evil – they’re all fluid and in transition. They don’t stay in one form or in one place forever.”

IMG Source: https://grapefruitjelly.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/photo-11.jpg

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Hope you guys found my review entertaining and informative.

If you have any books or movies you’d like me to review, or any topic suggestions, let me know through HERE.

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