Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami

I finished reading Kafka on the Shore over a week ago now, but I couldn't begin to write a review on it because I needed more time to think about it.  Now, after waiting more time I find myself in the same predicament.  I feel like I would have to read this book at least five more times before I could write a review that would do it justice.  This is by far one of my favorite books, and I guarantee I will be reading more Murakami in the future.  It is written in a style that exudes beauty, simplicity, purity, and innocence.  As I read Kafka on the Shore I often began to feel like the world was simpler, purer, and more welcoming.  I can only describe it as being able to once again look at the world like you did before your innocence was lost.  That's not to say that the entire book is lacking any darkness.  In fact, there is quite a bit of violence, sexuality, and other mature themes throughout the entire story, but I never once felt that they were vulgar or gratuitous.  They were simply there because evil is a part of life, and innocence and purity cannot avoid them forever.

Kafka on the Shore is a story about two characters.  The first is a young fifteen year old boy named Kafka Tamura, who has run away from his home in Tokyo.  He is on a journey to find his mother and older sister who left when he was just a small boy.  His journey brings him to a library in the town of Takamatsu where he becomes involved in the lives of the library's owner Ms. Saeki and worker Oshima.  The second character is an old man named Nakata, who has the ability to communicate with cats.  He becomes involved in a mystery to find a specific cat, and soon finds himself traveling across Japan as the mystery unfolds.  Kafka and Nakata's paths are deeply intertwined, but not necessarily in the physical realm.  The story frequently merges into the metaphysical, and often leaves questions unanswered, forcing the reader to draw their own conclusions.  For this reader at least, that was one of the more endearing factors of the book.

"Kafka on the Shore" is the type of book that you really have to read in order to understand the experience.  Just writing this review alone was a study in frustration, pushing my descriptive skills to the next level.  Trying to summarize it is like trying to explain a beautiful sunset, or an amazing experience in your life.  Sometimes you experience something that hits you right between the eyes, gripping you in a way that was completely new and unexpected.  You try to tell someone about the experience, but you just know that no words in the English language are going to get the message across exactly like you experienced it.  Maybe that's why this book was originally written in Japanese?  All joking aside, if you are willing to let your imagination soar, keep an open mind to deeper meanings, and be satisfied with not having all loose ends tied up, there is a fantastic journey waiting to be had in "Kafka on the Shore."  After all, isn't the journey of imagination what reading is really all about?

1 comment:

  1. I've read several books where words failed to describe just how much the story impacted me. If it really is as good as you've attempted to share, I'll need to buy it rather than wait to borrow it!