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Haruki Murakami | Kafka on the Shore

Flatlay of Kafka on the Shore


Kafka on the Shore, a tour de force of metaphysical reality, 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 ageing 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. Their odyssey, as mysterious to them as it is to us, is enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerizing events. Cats and people carry on conversations, a ghostlike pimp employs a Hegel-quoting prostitute, a forest harbours soldiers apparently unaged since World War II, and rainstorms of fish (and worse) fall from the sky. There is a brutal murder, with the identity of both victim and perpetrator a riddle—yet this, along with everything else, is eventually answered, just as the entwined destinies of Kafka and Nakata are gradually revealed, with one escaping his fate entirely and the other given a fresh start on his own.


'Kafka on the Shore' is perhaps my 'the most favourite' book or at least among my top 5 of all times.
What a nostalgia I get every time I try to relive the story. What an amazing, amazing book.
The average reader might not be able to get into the deeper aspects of the book. The book has been narrated in such a way that the boundary between reality and myth becomes meaningless. After you are a few chapters into the book, your mind will completely sink into the magical world filled with action, chaos and indescribable emotions. 

'Kafka on the Shore' has two parallel storylines going together in alternate chapters. It is really engrossing to understand how both of the storylines coincide and converge into each other.

The first chapter starts off in a tense situation where our protagonist Kafka Tamura is talking with 'a boy named Crow'. The first metaphor that Murakami presents in this book sparks off right on the first page. This so-called boy named 'crow' is given the sense of a person but he appears suddenly into the story many times. Perhaps, Crow is an imagined persona, representing a tougher, wiser version of Kafka himself. Anyways, what Kafka is planning to do is to run away from his father's home. He does this in order to escape an Oedipal curse and to embark upon a quest to find his mother and sister. Slowly the story progresses and Kafka gets shocks upon shocks and falls into all sorts of weird and impossible situations.

The second chapter and all other even chapters narrate the story of Nakata.  Due to his uncanny abilities, he has found part-time work in his old age as a finder of lost cats. He was a really weird character because he could not even comprehend simple stuff and he had lost practically everything from his childhood memory but he has some special abilities. (Read the novel to find out) Due to all this he somehow or the other starts getting into all sorts of unwanted situations and after a point of time we come to know of his past. It really shocked me personally. The author has put up a great imagination in there for sure.

But all in all, I feel like maybe Murakami wanted to write a book with seemingly complete opposite characters (almost their mirror selves), and then he wanted these two characters to have the same destiny. He might have wanted to portray that in the world even though everyone is unique, everyone can actually be the same person. To be honest, he succeeded in doing and presenting what he wanted through the book. 

A masterpiece for the ages to come.  


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