Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami

After reading numerous reviews praising this book I decided that this particular work of Murakami would be my hundredth read for the year, completing my Goodreads goal. Kafka on the Shore follows two parallel stories that at first seem unrelated but slowly converge and unravel as the novel progresses. The first is the story of Kafka Tamura, a fifteen year old school boy who runs away from home to escape his father and his oedipal prophecy. The second follows Nakata, an ageing simpleton who can communicate with cats, which he uses to reunite lost cats with their owners.

 

This is Murakami at his bizarre best. Even upon finishing the novel you have some understanding of the journey the novel takes you on but you are left feeling as though there is much more to pull from it. Secrets that will only be revealed after a few more reads of this novel. His work feel profound and touches on themes of philosophy, the self, nothingness and finding your purpose. There is much to be gained from this novel with plenty of food for thought to lead to some time for self-reflection. For this reason I’m glad that this was the final book for my 2016 reading challenge.

 

I found this book an easy read. The strange content that begin unrelated and slowly fits together to become a puzzle hooked me in and had me striving to understand. The typical Murakami themes and objects of focus like cats, music, books, sexuality all occur in this novel and it has been noted that Kafka on the Shore flows on from some of his earlier works, which are all making their way on to my TBR list. Having not even heard of Murakami at the beginning of the year I have now completed three of his novels and find myself more and more entranced by his words each time. Yes, his work is bizarre and is certainly not everyones cup of tea but I have found it compelling and unique. The blend of sensible and realistic characters, magical realism and strong underlying themes leaves me wanting more and more, perhaps in order just to understand a little more.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the blend of characters in this novel. They are quite different to those that I have discovered in the two novels I have previously read. Kafka Tamura  and Nakata are two very different characters, both of which you find yourself sympathising with in their two distinct troubles. The supporting characters, Oshima, Hoshino and Miss Saeki are unique and intriguing also. All a pleasure to read about and each memorable in their own way.

 

This is perhaps my favourite Murakami novel so far (although I have many more to experience) leading me only to want more. In fact, I picked up a copy of The Strange Library yesterday and plan to pick it up immediately, just to continue my Murakami obsession. If bizarre philosophical novels blended with magical realism are you thing, I do recommend picking up Kafka on the Shore immediately and give this novel four of Nakata’s cat friends.

 

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