It’s been over five years that I’ve last read Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. I remember then tagging it as coming-of-age – about teenagers who’re lost, confused, angry and irrational. Most of the time, these characters rely on their guts. They always believe the world is out to get them. More often than not, they meet characters who’ll help them shape who they’re going to be at the end of the story. Whether it will be for their better or worse, it’s up to them and the readers to decide.
Kafka on the Shore: The Second Time is the Charm
This story is exciting, kind of like an adventure to the unknown. Both are true in varying degrees for Kafka and Nakata – the lead characters.
It’s a journey that starts from being lost, to finding a safe place and losing it again. The important thing is to keep going until your role is fulfilled.
Rereading the story reminded me of details that I’ve forgotten, meanings I’ve missed and lessons that are very nice to reflect on once again. I used to favor Kafka a lot before, but I’m torn between Oshima and Hoshino right now. These are two peripheral characters who’s influence and help are vital to the lead characters. I also like the contrast between Oshima’s self-acquired knowledge and Hoshino’s willful ignorance.
I didn’t change my mind about this being a coming-of-age story though. But I deeply appreciate Nakata’s role on how the story unfolds. His charm and mystery made the diluted world in the story bearable.
Much importantly, the story’s underlying themes of emptiness, separation, and memories give a good kind of hurt that will make you want to revisit it time and again.
Haruki Murakami is one of most brilliant contemporary writers that we have. Or I don’t know, some identify his works as post-modern. I love his fantastic style, but more importantly, I admire him for how he weaves his themes – powerful, seamless and the uncanny ability to catch you off guard. Like details on a cloth that you’ll only see upon closer inspection or when light hits it at a different angle.
Murakami’s imagined worlds are wonderful to visit sometimes, but a place where you don’t want to stay for long, because more often than not, they’re depressing and confusing.
What makes his stories unique is their knack in blending fantasy and pragmatism, the way he balances the make-believe and real-life worlds. The way he creates a character that speaks to cats but also cooks like any other person puts a vivid contrast in the imagination. I wouldn’t say he’s as great as Tolkien in terms of world-building skills, but I’ll take Murakami’s colors and nuances anytime.
I definitely agree with the author when he says that this story can have different meanings as there are different types of readers out there. Kafka on the Shore is not like some statement novel that opens your eyes to a radical idea, not something that will rally a group of people because they agree on the one, same thing even without further consultation. It has an inward take, a subjective take, a defining characteristic of Japanese literature like In a Grove, where truth or meaning is relevant.
I highly recommend that you read this wonderful story. It’s like an introduction to Murakami’s works. Check out Kafka on the Shore in Amazon.
Or if you’ve been a long time fan, Murakami just released another book, Killing Commendatore. Quite sensational from what I’ve heard because of indecency. Oh well, I don’t know how indecent it is. Murakami seems to live for the details. It’s the same relish that he shows when writing about food or sex – basic, primal, and at times, mechanical.
As always, thanks for dropping by!
Featured Photo by Hannah Troupe
Inset by Saúl Venegas