Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Life has its own ways to deal with problems or no problems. Sometimes the mind creates few of its own and sometimes there are genuine issues to deal with. The idea is to learn it all step by step, slowly and steadily and earn your place among people. With mutual admiration comes respect and with respect you can win hearts. Author Haruki Murakami in his book "Kafka on the Shore" let his words and characters speak for themselves. The pen flows and out comes life on pages. So how colorful this life is? Let's find out. 

The odd chapters of Kafka On The Shore depict the story of 15-year-old Kafka as he leaves his father's house in search of his sister and mother, and also to escape from an Oedipal curse. Kafka comes across numerous adventures en route until he finds space in a library in Takamatsu. The library is owned by Miss Saeki and Oshima. He spends his time reading at the library when one fine day the police come searching for him. 
The even chapters narrate Nakata's story. He works part-time as a locator of lost cats because of his uncanny talents. The search for one lost cat requires him to travel away from home. He ends up on road where he befriends a truck driver named Hoshino, who gives him a lift in his truck. Soon he becomes attached to Nakata. 
Kafka and Nakata meet each other in the novel. However, when they meet each other it is not just in the physical sense but on a metaphysical level as well. As their odysseys unravel, fishes fall from the skies, and cats talk with people. The reader can find brutal killings, but the killer and victim’s identities remain unknown. The novel has several themes central to it, like the power of music, the connection between the subconscious, mind, and soul, the strength of nature, the influence of an old prophecy. All these combine to weave a dreamlike and elegant masterpiece. The Oedipal undercurrent running in the novel makes Kafka On The Shore the equivalent of a modern Greek tragedy.

First look at the title and the cover and both of it equivalently will catch a reader off their game. The title is not a modern day long eye catchy title and the cover at first is nothing to write home about. But then the book falls into the category where for once the judgment has to based upon the story rather than the cover. The blurb talks about two people Kafka Tamura and Nakata both quite the opposites of each other and how they end up playing pivotal roles in the story. The blurb just manages to give the gist of what is going to be a contemporary definition of life.

The story is set off in Tokyo and a ward respectively. Two people are the driving forces of the story. Nakata and Kafka are two different individuals. Kafka, young and fresh off from the school but not willing to pursue junior high and Nakata on the pinnacle of his life, losing out everything to an incident in his early days. But life has to offer some vividness to both of them and they are just about ready to undertake the journey to experience it all. Two different paths, two different lives and yet their worlds will collide for good. How and when that no one knows? What will happen when their destinies walk on a single path? Is there a way out of it or is it a new start? That's what the story is all about. 

Set off in a world where things never come easy it is a journey to remember. The cherished moments in the story are one too many. From Nakata's innocence and intelligence and Kafka's transition from a boy to a man the story offers you in depth views on how to be yourself in life. The best pleasures of life are derived from serving others and this is what the story is centrally based on. The ups and downs in the melancholic tempos of both individuals is a sight to savor and breathe. Nakata is a world in itself. He is a simplicity personified. His presence in the book leaves an ever lasting impression on the mind. Kafka is a typical lost teenager yet his life is no less than an adventure. He experiences it in a different manner and the story ends up giving him enough leverage to turn him into a star. Both the characters have been ably supported by other people and the figment of imagination runs deep with all of them. 

The story just loses its steam towards the end. A chapter or two or certain portions just got over stretched and the book turn towards a level of nothingness. It could have been avoided. 

All in all there will always be a Nakata or Kafka around you. If there are you just need to channelize them, make them part of the society, love them irrespective of their shortcomings and give them back the respect they deserve in the first place. The story is no less than the teachings of life. The subtle nature of the book and the sublime command on the ideas is another huge plus in the book. Nowhere it gets distorted or moves away from its ultimate goal. The goal to teach something to the readers. It spreads and gathers love and affection. It's a picture perfect blend of what one seeks in life. 


4 OUT OF 5

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