Kafka on the Shore 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 aging 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.
As their paths converge, and the reasons for that convergence become clear, Haruki Murakami enfolds readers in a world where cats talk, fish fall from the sky, and spirits slip out of their bodies to make love or commit murder. Kafka on the Shore displays one of the world’s great storytellers at the peak of his powers.
My Thoughts on Kafka on the Shore:
I picked this book up because I’m studying Japanese language and thought that it would be nice if I would be able to read a Japanese novel translated to English since I can’t read Japanese novels yet, only Japanese children’s story books. I contemplated for a while on reading a Haruki Murakami book because there have been many people who loved his books and there are also many who didn’t like them at all but I gave it a try anyway.
First few pages in, I had a difficulty getting used to the writing style of the translation – I know it’s very difficult to translate one language to another especially when translating literary works – but eventually I got used to it so it wasn’t much of a problem.
Despite having to get used to the writing style, Kafka on the Shore is fast-paced and a really great read.
There’s so much going on in this book that it intrigues me a lot and also there are a lot of life lessons and philosophical ideas which gets you thinking more about the world and just life in general.
I like how a library is one of the settings in this book and how Murakami weaves a series of weird events after another. What I didn’t enjoy about this book though is that the prophecy is too dark – immoral – and also how it was slow-paced for the last 3rd part of the book.
I may have enjoyed this book but I don’t think this book is for everyone. As I’ve mentioned earlier, many people love Kafka on the Shore but many didn’t enjoy it too. If you like books that explain everything in the end, then I don’t think you will enjoy Kafka on the Shore that much, but if you prefer books that get you thinking long after the last page has been turned, I think you will enjoy Kafka on the Shore.
I’m looking forward to reading Kafka on the Shore in Japanese. 😄
“Mr. Nakata, this world is a terribly violent place. And nobody can escape the voilence. Please keep that in mind. You can’t be too cautious. The same holds true for cats as for human beings.”
“In this whole wide world the only person you can depend on is you.”
“Things never work out like you think they will, but that’s what makes life interesting.”
“Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.”
“I needed someone like her to fill the void inside me. But I was unable to fill the void inside her.”
“It all really happened, so you can’t undo it. Things in the last are like a plate that’s shattered to pieces. You can never put it back as it was.”
“Maybe she forgot something she wanted to say and will come back. But she never does. All that’s left is an absence that’s like a hollow space.”
“In everybody’s life, there’s a point of no return. And in a very few cases, a point where you can’t go forward anymore. And when we realize that point, all we can do is quietly accept the fact. That’s how we survive.”
“Each person feels the pain in his own way, each has its own scars.”
“Having your own opinion and not being very bright are two different things.”
“No matter who or what you’re dealing with, people build up meaning between themselves and the things around them. The important thing is whether this comes about naturally or not. Being bright has nothing to do with it. What matters is that you see things with your own eyes.”
“Things change everyday. With each new dawn it’s not the same world as the day before. And you’re not the same person you were, either.”
“I no longer had any idea what was right and what was wrong. Was I really seeing the real world? Was the sound of birds I was seeing real?”
“I was hoping for an opportunity to repair the harm I’d caused, but circumstances dictated otherwise.”
“It is possible. Or not impossible, I should say.”
“I might have the leisure to get bored, but not to grow tired of something.”
“Solitude comes in different varieties.”
“School and I had a mutual hate relationship.”
“I never ask for the impossible, that’s a collosal waste of time.”
“I close my eyes, but I can’t fall asleep, my body dying for rest while my mind’s wide awake.”
“Silence, I discover, is something you can actually hear.”
“You need to make a choice right here and now. This might seem an outrageous choice, but consider this: most choices we make in life are equally outrageous.”
“The hands of the clock buried inside her soul ground to a halt.”
“Every one of us is losing something precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feeling we can never get back again. That’s part of what it means to be alive. But inside our heads – at least that’s where I imagine it – there’s a little room where we store memories. A room like the stacks in this library. And to understand the workings of our own heart we have to keep on making new reference cards. We have to dust things off every once in a while , let in fresh air, change the water in the flower vases. In other words, you’ll live forever in your own private library.”
About the Author:
Murakami Haruki (Japanese: 村上 春樹) is a popular contemporary Japanese writer and translator. His work has been described as ‘easily accessible, yet profoundly complex’.