- Fizzy Thoughts: Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the Shore

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Kafka on the Shore
Haruki Murakami
2005
467 pages

This book is trippy. I really can't think of any other word to describe it. But it's trippy in a good way...I think I've found a new favorite author. Murakami is very readable and he tosses in enough pop culture to make the story amusing (well, at least to me). At the same time, he's like nothing I've ever read before.

This story alternates between two characters. Kafka Tamura is a teenage runaway. Abandoned by his mother at a young age, his father has predicted "someday you will murder your father and be with your mother." The other main character, Mr. Nakata, is an elderly man. Due to a childhood injury, he has limited mental faculties. He can, however, talk to cats.

Kafka and Mr. Nakata's stories are told in alternating chapters. Kafka finds himself living in a library, working for the mysterious Ms. Saeki, who once wrote a song "Kafka on the Shore." Meanwhile, Mr. Nakata has a run-in with a creepy character by the name of Johnnie Walker, after which he sets off on a mysterious journey. To where, he doesn't know. He just feels compelled to head west. Although they never meet, Kafka and Mr. Nakata's stories will eventually intersect.

Along the way, lots of mind-bending stuff happens. There are characters such as Johnnie Walker and Colonel Sanders ("I was toying with the idea of Mickey Mouse, but Disney's particular about the rights to their characters.") There are ghosts - well, not really ghosts. More like people out of place or time. Murakami constantly plays with (and plays with the ideas of) reality and consciousness and memories.

Basically, this book is out there. But it's not so out there that I felt like I was reading some philosophical treatise...which is a good thing, because philosophy and I only get along if Mr. Cliff and his Notes are there to interpret. I read somewhere that this book is a bildungsroman, which I confess to not knowing the meaning of until I looked it up on wikipedia. Bildungsroman is sort of one way to describe it. Or, you can just call it trippy.

Have you reviewed Kafka on the Shore? Leave your link and I'll include it in this post.

3 comment(s):

bethany said...

I started one of Makurimi's (sp??) books once, The wind-up bird chronicles...but then I got bogged down in ARC's....silliness. My hubby read it and said it was great thoguh (he doesn't succumb to ARCs!!)

Ti said...

The members of my book club are big fans of this author but I have yet to read anything by him. I think your definition is correct..this book definitely sounds trippy, but also interesting. I'd read it.

beastmomma said...

I am glad that you enjoyed this book; I am looking forward to reading it someday.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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