ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Haruki Murakami is a Japanese author born in Kyoto, Japan. He is a novelist, short story writer, essayist, and translator. His preferred genres include magical realism, surrealism, fiction, realism, post-modernism, picaresque, and Bildungsroman.
Murakami’s works have been translated into more than forty languages. He has received numerous literary awards and accolades over the years. A few notable ones are the Franz Kafka Prize and The Jerusalem Prize.
Murakami lives in Tokyo with his wife Yoko. He is also an experienced marathon runner and triathlon enthusiast. He loves listening to music in his leisure time.
Kafka on the Shore was published in Japanese in 2002. It was translated into English by Philip Gabriel.
The book has two main characters – Kafka Tamura and Nakata. Their interconnected stories run parallel in alternate chapters.
Kafka Tamura is a fifteen-year-old who has a difficult relationship with his father. He runs away to Takamatsu City and starts working in a private library. It is during this phase in his life that he comes into contact with Sakura, Oshima, and the head librarian, Miss Saeki.
On the other hand, Nakata is a simple old man who lost all his memories besides his ability to read and write after an unfortunate childhood incident. However, he is blessed with a unique talent to communicate with cats and helps the people in Tokyo find their missing cats. An eventful day sees a major change in the life of this old man and he too has to leave Tokyo. During his westward journey, he is helped and accompanied by Mr. Hoshino.
WHAT WE LIKED ABOUT KAFKA ON THE SHORE
The novel is replete with references to the Greek classics and classical music. At no point do these references seem forced. If anything, they are rather important to the story line.
Every character – even the non-human ones – are quite complicated and have a complex relationship with each other. To add to the intrigue, the plot also offers a murder mystery. As if the story itself was not pleasantly puzzling, this mystery is the biggest puzzle of all.
As both the plots converge, the readers are rewarded for their patience, which is what makes this such a good book.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER ABOUT KAFKA ON THE SHORE
Certain parts of the book can be pretty dark and intense, and this may polarize some readers. Furthermore, the entire plot is a riddle and the characters’ identities are slowly unraveled. That said, the answers to many of the questions are open for discussion and interpretation, which makes this the ideal read for mature readers.
Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing direction. You change direction, but the sandstorm chases you.
Shape I may take, converse I may, but neither god nor Buddha am I, rather an insensate being whose heart thus differs from that of man.
Kafka on the Shore is not everyone’s cup of tea. It is rather meant for an audience that both wants to and can read a deep, insightful piece of literature. Ameya would not recommend children and teenagers to give this a go.
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