Kafka on the Shore is a fiction novel written by Haruki Murakami. This is actually my first read that was written by a Japanese author. On account of that, there’s a special relationship between the Japanese and cats that I can never wrap my head around. The word of mouth is that cat represents luck and fortune in the Japanese culture. I’ve never been to Japan, but I wouldn’t doubt it if their shops and houses are filled with cat pets or cat-represented decorations.
Me blabbing about cats might lead you into thinking this book is about cats, which it is not. My apologies (but there’re cats involved). This book is about a 15-year-old teenager named Kafka Tamura, who ran away from home with a strong determination to search for his long lost mother and sister. During this scouting journey is when fascinating things happen. I won’t get into any details since I hate spoilers and definitely don’t want to become one. There’s also another protagonist named Nakata- he’s a 70-year-old man who hasn’t fully recovered from world war II afflictions in which he was involved in a peculiar incident, which can neither be explained scientifically nor naturally, with a bunch of school kids. They all fell into a coma and the rest of the kids recovered at the end of the day, but not Nakata. As a result of that incident, Nakata, a once straight A’s student, became illiterate and unable to fully function as a normal human being. BUT, on the plus side, he developed another skill set- cat language and cat-tracking ability. Nakata, the WWII incident, and Kafka are somehow related and interwoven with one another’s path.
I was hooked and totally blown off by this book. Murakami is one special author who is able to slip in bizarre, unorthodox, vivid scene into the story line and you, as a reader, adjust through it just fine without feeling even a tad of discomfort. The protagonist can communicate with cats. There are leeches and fish falling from the sky as if there are tanks of them stored up there, but still, he made it all seems so normal and natural as if it happens on a daily basis. However, if you usually go for the kind of reads that have their ending tied into a pretty little bow, Kafka on the shore is not for you. It’s the kind of novel that leaves you puzzled with countless of possible conclusions which you need to figure out yourself. I’d say it’s a great challenge for all readers. There are loose ends, connections, plots and events that are left unexplained, but that is the special touch to Murakami’s novels.
My eyes are set on another Murakami’s piece of work “The Wild Sheep Chase”.