Kafka on the Shore: Murakami Madness

Oh man. I’m still battling with this book – and I finished it two days ago. There are so many questions I have, and so many things that went right over my head, that it makes it difficult for me to like Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.

I didn't hate it. So that’s a plus.

Ok, so. Plot line:

Meet Kafka Tamura, a 15 year old runaway, who leaves behind his father, a world renowned sculptor, in search of, well, himself… I guess. Or perhaps it’s better to say he was looking for his mother and older sister who abandoned him years ago, and THEN finds himself. He makes his way to a quaint little library where he befriends Oshima, a librarian/receptionist who, by the way, is a female – that dresses like a male – and likes males. So a homosexual transgendered librarian? Anyway, that is not really of any importance in the story, just an interesting fact. Kafka becomes employed by the owner of the library, a fifty-something year old woman named Mrs. Saeki. Madness ensues.

Meet Nakata, an elderly man who, having suffered a high fever and coma when he was younger, is “not very bright.” Nakata can not read, yet he can talk to cats. Yes, cats. He can also make fish and leeches fall from the sky. Nakata begins a sort of psychic quest, with the help of a young truck driver named Hoshino, westward (towards the exact same library where Kafka Tamura is living/working). Madness ensues.

I think I can put it this way: There were parts that were really good in Kafka on the Shore, and then there were parts that I just didn’t enjoy. But – I did feel the need to finish it. To see where Kafka would end up. To see what Nakata was setting out to do. To see where Murakami was headed with this strange tale.

In the end – I really don’t feel like it needed as many fantastic metaphysical elements as it had. There were parts that I feel could have been left out – i.e. fish/leeches falling from the sky. Nothing came of that, nor was there really any reason for that to happen. Unless it was some strange biblical allusion to the frogs that fell from the sky in the Egypt – but then that still confuses me. The metaphors in the book were THICK. Thick I tell you!

Loose ends stay loose ends. And that just aint my style I guess. I’m not saying every book has to tie its plot up in a neat little bundle, but when MAJOR ideas never come to fruition, then yes, that is a tad upsetting as a reader.

If you like weird, and I mean weird, and you don’t mind extremely descriptive sex scenes, then give Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore a shot.

On to reading!


  1. I had the same WTF feeling after reading Kafka On The Shore as I had after watching six years of Lost. But then you know, it forces you to dig a bit deeper to find a meaning that works for you, the reader. I've decided it's time to have another go at it this year and see if I can cull out any new insights. One thing is for sure, I fell in love with the characters, the odd story(s), the twists and turns and quasi-metaphysics that seem to resonate in the story. So, I shall consult the boy named Crow and try to find the stone, marvel at Johnny Walker and Col. Sanders, watch Nakata talk to cats and run away with Kafka. And perhaps, while I am not falling in love with Miss Saeki, I'll root once again for the Chunichi Dragons and listen to the Archduke Trio. Yes, my friends, this book is a mind trip that years after reading it I can't shake.

  2. I think you are definitely right, no matter how much I try to NOT think of this novel, it still pops up in conversation all the time. I really want to try another Murakami book. I've heard good things about Norwegian Wood and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Have you read any others?