Kafka on the Shore
by Haruki Murakami

A Review by Scott finished Nov. 19, 2011

This review will contain spoilers!

In many sentences:

I really enjoyed this book. Kafka is a fascinating character, and the struggles he goes through are very well realized. I was enamored by both the Kafka and Nakata story lines, and the way Murakami brings them together was really impressive. I found the postmodern qualities of the story to be, while intentionally vague, not annoying. Sometimes they were a little bizarre and confusing, but I think they worked in terms of generating a sense of the emotions of the characters even if not a logical meaning.

I think it's interesting that I don't like postmodern philosophy, but I do really enjoy reading books that approach reality in a postmodern way. I think the only Murakami book that is better than this (of the one's I've read so far) is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Wind-Up is better because it builds the supernatural qualities of the book so slowly, and believably, that by the end of it the craziest plot twists seem entirely plausible. Kafka on the Shore does this to some extent, but not quite as much as Wind-Up.

I also enjoyed the fact that, while I'm no expert on Japanese literature, when Kafka and Oshimo are talking about Soseki's books and Tale of Genji I actually knew what they were talking about. Something about these all being foreign language books made this even more fun than normal. Also, I think there were definitely some I am a Cat influence on the book, especially with all the Nakata being able to talk to cat moments.

I'm not sure if there was anything I particularly disliked about this book. The plot was fascinating, the characters well-developed, and the writing just generally superb. If I wish for anything, it would have been a little more discussion of the time elements of Kafka being present when Saeki was fifteen, and now in the present. At the same time, it worked as being just obscurely referenced too as is.

I'm not much of a writer, but the thought of composing a book as expansive and detailed as this is so overwhelming that it's hard to even write about it here. I think anyone who enjoys a good postmodern coming of age story will really enjoy this book. Highly recommended.

First Line

"'So you're all set for money then?' the boy named Crow asks in his typical sluggish voice."

Haruki Murakami the First Line of Kafka on the Shore

Last Line

"You are part of a brand-new world."

Haruki Murakami the Last Line of in Kafka on the Shore

Originally Published Jan. 1, 2002

Paperback edition:

467 pages - Jan. 3, 2006

Book Keywords

Related Books