Fiction, 2002 (Japan), 2005 (English translation)
Vintage UK, trade pb, 505 p.
Translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel
WINNER of the World Fantasy Award, 2006
WINNER of the Franz Kafka Prize, 2006
Kafka on the Shore follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father’s dark prophecy. The ageing Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his simple life suddenly turned upside down. Their parallel odysseys are enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerising dramas. Cats converse with people; fish tumble from the sky; a forest harbours soldiers apparently un-aged since WWII. There is a savage killing, but the identity of both victim and killer is a riddle.I can’t begin to fully understand what it all means but it was a very fun ride all the same. I was immediately drawn in and as the strands slowly started to come together I had to keep reading to find out what would happen next. And what happened next was never predictable, as I’ve come to expect from Murakami. This book had some other standard Murakami fare: cats, the importance of shadows, quirky characters, and a blurring between reality and fantasy, which seems to reflect Murakami’s thoughts on writing:
At once a classic tale of quest, Kafka on the Shore is also a bold exploration of mythic and contemporary taboos, of patricide, of mother-love, of sister-love. Above all it is a bewitching and wildly inventive novel from a master stylist.
“For me, writing a novel is like having a dream. Writing a novel lets me intentionally dream while I’m still awake. I can continue yesterday’s dream today, something you can’t normally do in everyday life. It’s also a way of descending deep into my own consciousness. So while I see it as dreamlike, it’s not fantasy. For me the dreamlike is very real.”His simple prose makes it highly readable and even though some things are never fully explained and remain unclear at the end of the novel, it’s an enjoyable, compelling read. One that certainly deserves a second reading someday. Murakami himself had this to say when asked the meaning of the book:
"Kafka on the Shore contains several riddles, but there aren't any solutions provided. Instead, several of these riddles combine, and through their interaction the possibility of a solution takes shape. And the form this solution takes will be different for each reader. To put it another way, the riddles function as part of the solution. It's hard to explain, but that's the kind of novel I set out to write."Excerpts from the book, an interview with Murakami about Kafka on the Shore and information on his other works can be found on this Haruki Murakami author site.
My Rating: 4.5/5
(#23 for 2008, Book Awards Challenge #9, Once Upon a Time II Challenge #4, 1% Well-Read Challenge #1, Herding Cats Challenge #1)
Also reviewed at:
My Own Little Reading Room
things mean a lot
Tip of the Iceberg
Trish's Reading Nook
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