It took me a damn long time to read this book. I started it some time in November last year, and I finished it 10 other books later. And I’m not sure if I even liked the book. It wasn’t painful to go through, but it was all kinda meaningless. I didn’t quite connect with the characters or the stories.
Kafka on the Shore is my fourth Murakami’s book (I’ve read Norwegian Wood, Sputnik Sweetheart, and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle). I was a fan of him (I probably still am), but I’m not a fan of this work. It’s quite surprising how this book is probably one of his most famous. Not to mention all the praises from many well-known reviewers and the awards.
The story switches between Kafka, the 15 year-old runaway and Nakata, the old somehow-mentally-slow man. One chapter for the youngster, one for the old man, and on it goes alternatively. I found this method quite distracting. I was impatient to turn my attention from one POV to another over and over, especially when things were in the heights for one and not so much for the other.
As with other Murakami’s books, there are some elements that almost seem to be his trademarks. Cats, obviously. Always some cats. With some classic music and talk about literature. And some happy-go-lucky girl with not so terrific background who seems to always fade away near middle to end of the book, never to be told again. Of course, the dreamy state and surrealism is always there.
Natsume Soseki’s works are frequently mentioned. I took note of the books, but I lost my note. At one time I had an idea to take note of the books mentioned in the book I currently read. I thought if any book is mentioned three times in three different books, it’s about time for me to just grab the book and read it. But then I found Moby Dick mentioned in 2 different books I read consecutively. I got worried. I really don’t want to be forced reading Moby Dick. (a glimpse of the reason) So I ditched the idea pretty soon.
I’m torn between 3 and 3.5 rating, but I think I’d just give it a 3. I wasn’t exactly satisfied with the book. I didn’t find the whole Oedipus complex theme very attractive either. I’m hoping for a better Murakami next.
Original Title: 海辺のカフカ (Umibe no Kafuka)
Publication year: 2002 (Japanese), 2005 (English)
Awards: 2006 World Fantasy Best Novel
“So you’re all set for money, then?” the boy named Crow asks in his typical sluggish voice.
You are part of a brand-new world.
“If the words can’t create a prophetic tunnel connecting them to the reader, then the whole thing no longer functions as a poem.” ~ Oshima p254
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