Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel

Imagination is the source of all your responsibility and power. “It’s all a question of your imagination. Our responsibility begins with the power to imagine. It is just as Yeats said: In dreams begin responsibility.” And imagination is all that you need to understand Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore.

As speculative fiction or fantasy based on realism. Kafka on the Shore has many dimensions to it.

Kafka Tamura is a 15-year-old protagonist who lives in Tokyo, but wants to run away from his life there. Kafka’s tumultuous relationship with his father is a result of his oedipal issues which his father has driven into his psyche when Kafka was a child.

The other main character is Nakata, an older man, who was a part of a war-time accident as a child and now for all practical reasons is considered to be dumb and slow. Nakata, however possess abilities, which the so-called sane humans lack. His ability to talk to cats.

Secondary characters are introduced seamlessly and the story moves on at a fast pace. Though on completely different tracks in their life, Murakami's protagonists have a common thread, which you are eager to find out. The book was released in 2005 and became on the most talked about pieces of fantasy fiction, having won the 2006 World Fantasy Award - Novel.

Murakami’s writing is clear and highly descriptive, to the point where you can see the scene unfold as you read. Each scenario is described to a T. It is well translated and easy to read.

My take from Kafka on the Shore-
1. Brilliant characterization. The book shifts from real to unreal seamlessly and you are drawn to each of these characters.

2. Profound analysis… of life, people and situations. Certain words and paragraphs really pull a chord within you.

3. Highly imaginative. At one point, I questioned if what I am reading made sense.

However, it is words like below which drew me to Murakami:
“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. . . . The sandstorm is you."

I would recommend this one to those of you who want to start reading Murakami’s work and have not yet read any of his other books. It’s fantasy, realism and life lessons woven together by a wonderful story-teller.


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