When someone writes a book, we are reading the sum total of that person’s knowledge, experiences, dreams, and imaginations. While everyone has all the above, only a writer is expressing all of it in words.
And Haruki Murakami’s world is beautiful, full of books, music, the mystical, the metaphysical, sexually charged, and even magical.
Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart
Kafka on the Shore is about a teenaged Japanese boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from his father and an oedipal curse. He settles down in a small town called Takamatsu in a library, his favourite place. There he makes friends with the enigmatic, warm Oshima and the aloof, mysterious, and tragic Miss Saeki.
The other protagonist is Satoru Nakata, a simple minded old man, who talks to cats. As a child, Nakata was part of an incident where several children collapsed without reason. Afterwards, while all children woke up normal, Nakata loses his ability to read and write. In his old age, he earns money by finding lost cats.
It’s like Tolstoy said. Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness a story
He grapples with an unkind world that he doesn’t understand, but never strays from his true character and runs on pure instinct driven by an unseen force. He too must journey to what seems a predestined place for the narratives to culminate in the climax. En route, he meets Hoshino, a truck driver, who becomes a close companion. Hoshino also provides some comic relief. I personally love the bit when Colonel Sanders shows him the way.
The narrative switches from Kafka to Nakata. Kafka has the odd chapters, and Nakata the even. Modern and mythical themes blend to offer some brilliant story telling. For instance, music is a powerful entity in the story, as are books.
This is a difficult book to understand, but the reader wouldn’t mind. The words flow beautifully, a mark of a great writer.