Thursday, June 13, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Kafka on the Shore

Author: Haruki Murakami (2002)
Country: Japan
Published in English: 2005 (Vintage)
Pages: 505
“Taking crazy things seriously is a serious waste of time.” - Kafka on the Shore

In all seriousness, this is crazily one of the most serious books that seriously talks about serious craziness.

Talking cats, leech-rain, flying fish, a pimp Colonel Sanders, a cat-napping Jack Daniels, a flute made from cats' souls, some kind of Pleasantville purgatory, a backpacking 15-year old runaway with patricidal thoughts and oedipal complex, an illiterate old man talking to a stone.

Consider yourself warned.

Kafka on the Shore is my first Murakami novel, and like any first times, I didn't really know what I was getting into. And by the time I finished I still wasn't sure if I knew what just happened. 

If you want a comprehensive description of the plot (all you need to know is that there are talking cats in here, and lots of conversations with a stone), you can get that from Wiki or Goodreads. All I'm gonna tell you is that the book has two major characters - one is a teenager who takes on a cool name, Kafka, because obviously that's what he is -- cool and smart -- or so he thinks. He's like a modern version of Holden Caufield (Catcher in the Rye) but darker... way darker.... If Caufield made me wanna punch him in the nose for his annoying cynicism and conceitedness; Kafka, on the other hand, makes me wanna grab a samurai sword and cut him in half to end all that darkness in his head. I'm already dark, so reading about his thoughts, with a bit of patricide there, and incest here, makes me want to flip the pages faster towards the next chapter. Nakata, the other half of the book, now that kept me interested and entertained. Together with his sidekick Hoshino (a character where we see change and development, despite his lesser exposure in the book), they embark on this journey to find an entrance stone to another world or reality. Nakata may be simple-minded, totally the opposite of Kafka, but he is endearing, and in a way, wiser.

This is what I felt while reading. As I progressed, page after page, weird things getting weirder, vague thoughts getting vaguer or buried under symbolisms, it felt as if my head was floating in a cute swirl of magical cloud decorated with a lot of pop culture references and symbolisms. It's true that this book is beautifully written and engaging. A plot masterfully woven that keeps us wanting to turn the pages, absorbing each puzzling events and thoughts of the characters, excitingly trying to reach to the end with an expectation that things would be clearer. At least I was expectant for some sort of resolution or logical explanation that will satisfy me. There wasn't any. I found out in the end that's it's 100% not that kind of book. 

As I've said, you have been warned.

Don't get me wrong, Kafka on the Shore is truly engrossing, entertaining, and not one to be easily forgotten. It's riddled with symbolisms & references that keeps you looking for hidden meanings, it may add up or it may have been simply injected in the novel to keep us turning the pages in search of explanations.  While I wasn't sure by the time I finally read the last page and closed the book if I was satisfied, one thing for sure is that I was amused with its perplexity & if you enjoy that feeling of delicious confusion, that in itself is enough reason to pick up the book and get lost in a world of hazy, magical realism. If you find the idea of talking cats ridiculous, then this is not for you. 

My Rating:  

3.5/5 -  depending on the reader, this could be a one-time-only book or gets-better-after-several-reading kind of literary work. I'm stuck in between.

Check out MY ULTIMATE BOOK BUCKET LIST or the books I wanna read before I die!

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  1. I have not read this book, but WOW what a great review :) You make me want to read this :)

  2. Tippi M. BlaylockJune 13, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    Exceptional review Ms. Strange....

    1. lol not at all exceptional Tippi, just stating honest opinions :) but thanks !

    2. Tippi M. BlaylockJune 13, 2013 at 5:30 PM

      I beg to differ Ms. Strange, it is just as I said," Exceptional!" :) Give credit where credit is due!!!

    3. Thank you for sharing, looking forward to your next review.... Will be keeping my eye out for your work.....

    4. yay, thank you! hoping for your inputs /opinions :)



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