A young boy runs away from home and renames himself Kafka Tomura. An old man called Saturo Nakata can talk to cats. Miss Saeki is the head librarian of Komura Private Library, Oshima is Miss Saeki’s assistant, and becomes a friend to Kafka Tomura. What do they have all in common? What binds them all together?
Filled with metaphors and abstract concepts, this book has a surreal feel to it. You honestly cannot review a Murakami book without processing your emotions. Murakami’s books start slow, one thread at a time. Then, as a rolling stone gathers momentum, so does the story. The individual threads of the characters start intertwining, the braids of the stories leap and criss-cross. The story itself, now sinuous, moves into your conscious. You are unable to fathom your emotions, and yet, you keep turning the pages. The story keeps drawing you in, you cannot not turn the pages, cannot not finish the story. And just like that, the story reaches a crescendo.
Once you finish the book, you try to process what you have read. You try to decipher the clues set by the author. To find the hidden meanings of the metaphors, the purpose of it all. You spend hours just thinking about what you read. There is also a sense of disquiet, as if, you haven’t quite grasped what the author wanted to express. And yet, you are moved by the words, the emotions they send coursing down your veins. You marvel at the author’s power of imagination, of his taking seemingly inconsequential events/people and spinning a tale, which is imaginative, metaphysical.
Reading Murakami is not easy, it takes patience and mental fortitude. You have to be alert enough to find the hidden meanings, decipher the metaphors. Even then, you are liable to miss the point. Sometimes I think reading Murakami is like watching “Interstellar”. You are in awe of the prose, the sinuous way the story moves. And yet, you are unsure. You believe that the essence of the book might have eluded you. Still, you cannot stop thinking about the book. The characters make a home in your mind, you continue to think about the deeper meaning of the book.
“Kafka On The Shore” is a book that is deeply disturbing and extraordinary. A difficult book to read, it is a book that you will not be able to read in one sitting. You will need time to pause, to process what you read, to find your footing. The book feels elusive, ephemeral. You feel an intangible emotion reading it. However, you cannot help, but fall in love with the story.