Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

God, I love Murakami. There’s nowt like a bit of weird-ass, alternative universe stuff to make you completely forget about the fact that you have exams in eight days. Ha! I’m in denial, much like Kafka Tamura is in this particular novel. In my case, however, I’m not running away from a curse/prophecy that predicts that he’ll murder his father and sleep with his mother and sister. I, on the other hand, am just running away from my responsibilities.

What made me buy this book was the fact that one of the protagonists, Nakata, can talk to cats. Now that’s a skill I need. Alongside a pimp dressed like Colonel Sanders, an ominous forest harbouring soldiers un-aged since World War Two and leeches raining from the sky, this was a book that I could suitably delve into in order to forget about my troubles.

There are two main ‘parallel odysseys’ – the stories of Kafka, the aforementioned ‘toughest 15 year old in the world’, and Nakata, an old guy whose childhood ‘accident’ left him unable to read or write, but able to converse with cats. And stones. It’s difficult to tell when, or how, the two relate to each other, but they do – and when it happens, it suddenly makes sense. Kind of.

Not a lot makes sense. For me, making sense of something means that I understand the intentions and purpose behind them. The characters and universe in Kafka on the Shore don’t seem to contemplate meaning or purpose – stuff just happens. None of it is explained, and although this irritated me a little when I first started to read Murakami’s work, I’ve got used to it by now. I kind of gave up trying to figure out why, and just started accepting. A boy named Crow who may not be real, who may not be a boy but may also be a crow? A guy dressed like Johnnie Walker (y’know, the whisky guy)? Weird overlapping dreams/reality/God-knows-what? Yup, it’s all in there.

I don’t really care that I can’t manage to get inside the characters’ heads. It was an enjoyable, whimsical, weird-ass read that was surprisingly captivating. I read it in two days, which is impressive, considering my other responsibilities. Kafka on the Shore is basically a fairy tale for adults, with a lot more sex, a lot more gore, and a lot more mystery. Murakami’s pulled it out the bag again.


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