Book Review: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

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Anyone who knows me, or the subtitle of my blog, knows how much I love Haruki Murakami. In the event that I find myself being forced to live on an island, on my way I’d grab a few copies of Murakami – and probably The Martian by Andy Weir – to take with me.

Kafka on the Shore is the book that started my literary love affair with Haruki Murakami. It’s been almost two years since I read it and I need to read it again at some point. 

I fell in love with the strangeness, the prose and everything from talking cats to soldiers that stopped aging. I loved the bizarre things that happened, the events that shocked me, the surrealism of real life getting intermingled with dreams and the annoyance over Murakami’s ability to end a book perfectly while leaving a hundred questions unanswered. It was one of the first books to truly make me realise how much our experience as a reader is in the hands of the author. Here I was reading page after page and Murakami manipulated it to the last word. 

We see a young boy, Kafka Tamura, methodically leave his home in search of his mother and sister or as the synopsis on Goodreads puts it, ‘to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy’. We see him train himself to survive on limited portions of food, his encounters with Nakata, the strange man who can speak to cats and who looks for lost ones for a living, and his escape into a library. I’m afraid if I say any more I’d spoil the book for you because there is so much that happens and every event leads to another. However, don’t go into it expecting a fast paced and gritty story. The story pulls you in at the start and establishes itself in a smooth manner, throwing in many many sentences you’ll never forget and gruesome violent bloody descriptions that will make you cringe. This book has everything to offer, go pick it up! 

As for me, once I put it down I wanted more Murakami. I can’t get enough of his work and I hope he writes endlessly and surprises us with his intrigue and mystique. Here’s a writer everyone should read at least once in their lifetime, and better to never stop reading him.

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Some quotes from the book:

“Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.”

“Every one of us is losing something precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That’s part of what it means to be alive.”

“Not just beautiful, though–the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me.”

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6 thoughts on “Book Review: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

  1. I love the quotes. 🙂 I honestly don’t like talking animals, but the other ideas you mentioned about the book caught my interest. I think this will be my next read. 🙂 Hopefully I can find a copy. 🙂

  2. Kafka on the Shore was my first Murakami book as well, and funny enough, it’s almost been two years for me as well since I first read it. I felt like he was messing with me the whole way through, with dead ends and unexplained events, yet somehow it was as strangely addictive as reading The Hunger Games for the first time. I always recommend this book as a wise one by Murakami to start off with, because it inhabits a lot of what he’s known for; a young protagonist who’s more or less alone, cats, a love of reading, references to seasoned music (particularly jazz), and strange, unexplainable events.

  3. Hello!! I read Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage and found it alright but it didn’t pull me in as many people say about Murakami’s books. So that had ended my affair with Murakami’s work but recently I read a chapter from The Windup Bird Chronicle and quite liked it! So what do you recommend? Kafka on the Shore or The Windup Bird Chronicle? Is the effort worth it? Greetings from India!!

    1. Hi!! Sorry about my late reply, haven’t been around here recently. Sorry Colorless Tsukuru didn’t work out for you! I’d highly recommend Wind up Bird! Kafka is amazing too but Wind Up is super!

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