Kafka on the Shore is my second read, or should I say Audible, from Haruki Murakami and it didn’t disappoint. I’m two books in, reading a genre I never thought I’d be interested in, and feel like I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole.
My intro to Murakami happened in the summer of 2020 while listening to 1Q84, a forty-six hour epic. Twelve hours in, I loved it, but I was beginning to doubt I had the will to see it through to the end.
Then, the same morning I was considering throwing in the towel, I came across this quote on Linkedin.
“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”Haruki Murakami – Kafka on the Shore
By the time it was finished 1Q84 it was safe to say that I didn’t want the storm to be over, so I decided what better book to read next, then the book that inspired my push to the end, Kafka on the Shore.
In Kafka, Murakami focuses on the story of his two main characters. A boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home to a seaside town in search of his mother and sister. And the parallel story of an elderly, mentally impaired man, Nakata, who is pulled by an unknown force, to that same seaside town.
Similar to 1Q84, Kafka makes use of elements of sci-fi, the fantastical, and alternate realities, all without being over the top. Instead, Murakami uses these tools to explore the nature of the self, the forces that drive us, and the power of love in shaping who we are.
Also like, 1Q84, I left with questions, that based on the following interview with Murakami have no real answers.
Kafka on the Shore contains several riddles, but there aren’t any solutions provided. Instead, several of these riddles combine, and through their interaction, the possibility of a solution takes shape. And the form this solution takes will be different for each reader. To put it another way, the riddles function as part of the solution. It’s hard to explain, but that’s the kind of novel I set out to write.Haruki Murakami – Questions for Murakami about Kafka on the Shore
It is safe to say that Murakami is now my favourite author, even though his stories fall well oustide my typical genre.
He is a beautiful writer that draws you into his stories by combining incredible depth of character, and great stories that make you feel like you’re there. I would say that the only writer I’ve read that possesses the same abilities to develop characters and draw you in would be Stephen King, especially his early works like IT.
I think it’s best to wrap this up with one last quote,
“If you remember me, then I don’t care if everyone else forgets.”Haruki Murakami – Kafka on the Shore