Book Review: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel
Location: On the bus and subway downtown; it was also present when I lost my wallet (if not the cause)
My only regret is that it’s taken me this long to read anything by Haruki Murakami. (Not counting, of course, his short stories “Scheherazade” and “Lederhosen” which I read while I was working for Books LIVE.) Much like my experience with Umberto Eco, I thought myself too dim to understand anything he’s written. I’m glad to say I was wrong.
In fact, not trying to understand everything is probably best when tackling a book like Kafka on the Shore. The story is told by two very different narrators – Kafka Tamura, a 15-year-old runaway, and Mr Nakata, a simple old man with the ability to speak to cats.
My favourite part of the book is of course the fact that a large portion of it takes place in a beautiful old library in rural Japan. Kafka and his ever-present companion, the boy named Crow, flees Tokyo and a damning Oedipal prophesy. In his desperate mission to get as far away from his father as possible, Kafka ends up at the Komura Memorial Library in Takamatsu. Nakata embarks on a similar journey after his search for a missing cat turns everything topsy-turvy, and as the story progresses their two paths eventually converge, but not in a way the reader might expect.
Kafka on the Shore is not a book you race to finish. You take your time, sharpen your pencils, sip your coffee while savouring the rich language, vivid descriptions and imaginative metaphors.
In a word, it’s mind-bending.