Review: Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the Shore
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think it’s a funny coincidence that I got this book while I was stuck alone in a foreign town, with nothing much to do. Just me and my heavy thoughts about life, the Universe and everything; then I enter a bookstore, notice this one and buy it. Several friends had recommended it to me before, as a first Murakami book to read, but I had no idea what it was about before I started reading it.

As the characters themselves explain, it looks like the story is inspired by ancient Greek mythology and tragedies, with a modern twist. I mean, the last time I’ve read anything so bluntly fatalist was back in high school when we studied the Iliad and such.

In Murakami’s universe, fate does not simply nudge you gently when you get stuck in a rut or when you stray off your destined path; instead, it will violently grab you by the shoulders, shake you up and give you a good, firm kick in the butt. And when something in the world is in the wrong place, the world itself reacts furiously! That reaction may include all sorts of weird things, like talking cats, raining fish, prostitutes quoting Hegel, living ghosts, and all other sorts of things. The surreal elements in the book are so captivating that I could not put it down.

Every now and then, I’d find thoughts or experiences in the book and think “oh wow, this applies to me!” Of course, that’s only because in such a mish-mash of thoughts and experiences anyone can find things relating to their life. But still, it’s nice. It gets the gears in my head turning.

“Kafka on the shore” may appear too weird and erratic at times. Some episodes appear completely pointless. So some people wouldn’t enjoy it much. But other people will love it (I know I did!)

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