I did a little research on Goodreads before I began reading Haruki Murakami and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. He is one of those writers that seem to attract oddly equal amounts of exalted praise and censorious derogation. And that made me all the more curious.
I’ve read three of his books. And I heedlessly want to mark Kafka On The Shore as one of my most favorite of all times for I felt something bubbling in the depth of my very being that for all the while, was simply brewing. Hindsight bias, you may call it. But he puts into words the thoughts that seemed to have surfaced my mind at one point but immediately left without having been given a second thought to, which is a mark most writers aim to ace while writing.
Fifty pages into Kafka… and I felt a sense of deep satisfaction in my decision to read instead of going out for what might have been the end of my search for the perfect chicken sandwich; for I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on this masterpiece for anything (and I did get myself a chicken sandwich the next weekend; turns out the search is not over yet). I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in a day and half one heavenly weekend in December. I’ve seen many bickering about having read the best Murakami books first and then having moved on to his lesser appreciated works and being disappointed. For me, I read his works in the order: Norwegian Woods; Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman and Kafka on the Shore. And I must say, I have only grown to love Murakami more and more with each book. Good for me if I’ve been unintentionally reading them in the perfect order, right?
The very first chapter of this book felt like it had grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me into a dimension where I was looking at feelings I’ve always felt but denied or avoided putting into words, like I mentioned before. It’s heavy on the reader and makes one want to think deeply and yet it does not give one a subject to think on. It is a beautiful blend of reality, philosophy and even abnormality; it’s surrealism. There’s fear and love and maddening mystery and there are supernatural events.
There were things Murakami wrote that my sense of reality wanted to conflict with, but my mind gave in and accepted whatever he wrote without wanting to say “What the hell am I reading?”; for there are talking cats, there’s an Oedipal curse to murder, and Murakami himself strings symphonies with tuneless words on the paper as he describes various musicians and their works. That’s how cogent his style is. The serenity in being one with nature; dire, blood-curdling torture descriptions, passionate love and deep, stirring conversations on philosophy, art, literature and classical music, you’ll find it all.
All in all, I found Kafka on the shore to be one hell of a gripping and fascinating imagery of human emotions without being too real to plunge you into grief or depression. Let me know what you think of it if you have read it, or give it a try if you’re one for unusual metaphorical descriptions of life and it’s pains. I would love to know what you think of it!