Review: Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the ShoreWhile vacationing in Myrtle Beach, I managed to finish Haruki Murakami’s Kafaka on the Shore, a lengthy novel that I had been carrying around for over a month. This was my first book by Murakami. It was actually the first time I’ve ever read anything by a Japanese author. The novel had a unique style (at least to me). It played and reminded me a bit of Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams, where reality blended with mysticism. There were parts in the novel where leeches dropped from the sky and others where characters spoke with cats. Some bits really engaged me while others failed to attract me making the novel a bit of a drag.

A reviewer on Amazon.com described the novel as the last ten minutes of Magnolia. What an accurate description! I had the same thought while I was in the middle of the novel. One thing I noticed about Murakami’s style is that he is a great creator of characters. I managed to empathize with each of his characters, even his darkest character, who he christened "Johnny Walker." Yes, like the whiskey!

One character that really intrigued me was Colonel Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Murakami brought him to life in this novel, although he doesn’t represent himself but rather plays the role of a floating soul who has adopted the physical appearance of Colonel Sanders. For anyone looking for a bit of off-beat reading, this is your book.

7 thoughts on “Review: Kafka on the Shore”

  1. The best Murakami I’ve read is Dance, Dance, Dance, though The Wild Sheep Chase didn’t do that much for me. South of the Border, West of the Sun was also good. The few others I’ve read fell flat, though I’ve never read the one you mention or The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

    Japanese novels have been in a good period the past few decades. I particularly like the three main novels of Endo Shusaku (Silence, The Samurai, Deep River) and many works by Mishima Yukio, though I disagree with the political implications he draws from his vision. Kawabata and Tanazaki also make for pleasant reads, though I admit to never having made it to the end of a work by Oe Kenzaburo.

  2. Congratulations on finding the time to read and finish a book. That seems harder and harder to do all of the time.

    Sounds like a good recommendation, too, even if you only read it for certain elements. I would like to read it to learn his character development and go from there — depending on what time allows.

  3. Is there a reason for the title? I love Kafka, and if the book has anything to do with him, I’ll go get it now.

  4. I only recently read my first Murakami book as well, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. The person who recommended the book to me said he considers Murakami a “slow burn” and I would agree. I, too, enjoyed his characters. Hard-Boiled Wonderland was unlike any novel I would normally choose for myself but it wasn’t unpleasant or unenjoyable. I finished feeling that I would give Murakami a try again.

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