Kafka on the Shore is a novel by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami (2002). The excellence of this work earned him the Franz Kafka Literature Prize in 2006.
Anyone familiar enough with Haruki Murakami and his story would readily read, confused and drawn in. Kafka by the beach is another magical mystery, pages filled with talking cats, fish falling from the sky, and a spirit or something like that, called Colonel Sanders.
There is no shortage of features of Murakami (Murakami-ism) here, of course there is no shortage of characters living in parallel lives unrelated (until, until, we hope and believe, that at some point they will by life). We first meet the narrator, Kafka Tamura stoically leaving home at the age of fifteen. Kafka’s mother left home when he was four years old, took his sister with him and left the son with his father cold. Kafka goes to a private library in the countryside, where he meets the chief librarian Saeki whom he quickly believes is his mother.
Kafka’s story is intertwined with the uneducated old man Nakata. As a child born after World War II, Nakata was one of a group of kids who suddenly collapsed while picking mushrooms – he never recovered his memory and mind. (Always talking about himself in the third person, he told everyone he met sincerely and sweetly, “Nakata’s not very smart.”) Now he lives, in sunny midday in Tokyo, chattering. with local cats. After encountering a stranger named Johnny Walker – Murakami seems to be fond of naming the symbols of his stories – the bizarre and macabre meeting ends with Nakata’s cross-country trip, together one side with Kafka.
Murakami often writes about souls that have lost their way to be filled, and so is here. The special thing about this novel is that the main character is very young. “My fifteenth birthday was the perfect time to leave home,” Kafka narrates in the opening pages. Sooner will be too soon, and later will miss the opportunity. A similar sentence can be drawn from the way Murakami chose to write from the narrative of an enemy who hates humanity, a man fleeing from his father, who always misses a mother long ago. It seems a bit too simple to call this story a teenage sorrow, but somehow, in Murakami’s most complicated work to date, the lack of simplicity of teenage makes Kafka human. ideal storytelling.
Readers meet Kafka with mature, orderly, strict people in daily activities; but this is just an attempt to bury his crisis of fifteen. Nakata with his not so great intellect is the perfect contrast. Nakata is a dark gray with no memory – he can hardly tell one day from another – and Kafka tries his best to escape from a sad childhood that tormented him. There is a prediction from his father that especially haunts Kafka: Kafka will kill his father, then sleep with his mother and his sister.
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