Kafka on the Shore

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Kafka on the Shore book cover

Author: Haruki Murakami
Date Started: 16-Jan
Date Finished: 07-Feb
Pages: 489
Type: Fiction

Book Blurb:
Kafka on the Shore is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom.”

Main Characters:
Kafka Tamura
Nakata
Other Characters:
The boy named Crow
Sakura – the girl Kafka met on the bus on his way to Shikoku
Oshima – the Librarian in the Komura Library
Miss Saeki – the head librarian
Hoshino – the man who went with and help Nakata on his way to Shikoku
Colonel Sanders – not really a person per se, but he helped Hoshino help Nakata 🙂
Sada – Oshima’s brother
Setting: Japan
Thoughts on the book:
It’s like the story of Oedipus Rex but with so much twist. Kafka’s story has similarities with that of Oedipus Rex’s. Just like Oedipus’ fate, no matter how far Kafka ran away from home (Oedipus was sent away as a newborn) to avoid fulfilling his destiny, he still, ended up meeting his fate. Lesson is that the more we try to run away from our fate, the closer we get to meeting it. We may keep on running away to avoid things but some things will find its way to us no matter how hard we try.
Like:
I liked that the book mentioned about Oedipus Rex. It’s my favorite story in Greek Mythology so it was actually only then that I came to understand Kafka’s father’s prophecy.
I was touched about how Chapter 48 ended. Hoshino, though he’s not one of the main characters, I think would be my favorite. I was always judgmental on his character. I would always think he’d fool Nakata along the way – that he’d leave him somewhere some day or take advantage of the simpleton that Nakata is, but no. He had grown to love the company of old man Nakata and chose to help him finish the mission (of opening and closing the entrance stone) over going back to his job. He became attached to Nakata that he thought he may not be able to forget the old man even if he wanted to. I liked how Nakata has become a part of Hoshino- that even if Nakata’s gone, he will still live in some way in Hoshino.
I also like Nakata’s character. The story teaches us that sometimes, it is with people like Nakata that we can learn so much from. That it’s not always about what you have achieved in life, or how smart you are, that will make you an inspiration. Between Hoshino and Nakata, Hoshino was more educated than Nakata, but just like what Hoshino said, he has learned so much with Nakata. Hoshino teaches us to be humble and patient with other people. For Hoshino, we are all equal. *oh, I’m getting teary-eyed on this part* Sometimes we may think that we are lesser than other people because there are things that many can do but we can’t, but Hoshino reminds us to look deeper and realize that there are also things only we can do.
Dislike:
The story did not explain why Nakata was the chosen one to open and close the entrance stone. Why among the students during his era, he was the only one that was significantly affected by the 1945 incident on the Rice Bowl Hill. Or even how come Kafka’s father had a prophecy about Kafka’s future. Who is Kafka’s father really – a sculptor or a cat killer? I still need to know the connection between Nakata and Kafka. I just could not connect their lives even after I have finished reading the book.
About the Ending:
The truth is, while in the middle of reading this book, I am confused about whether or not I like it. But when I finished reading, I finally appreciated the story and thought that it’s actually a good one. Maybe not the best, but it’s a good story- so much to learn from. That said, if you haven’t read the book, I hope I was able to help you decide whether or not you’d want to try it.
And another thing, right after I closed the book, I suddenly sang,
Oh my life is changing every day.
In every possible way..  (by The Cranberries)
Anyway, I think the story is not meant to be understood. You just have to pick up the lessons in each character’s life.
Favorite Quote:
“Every one of us is losing something precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That’s part of what it means to be alive. But inside our heads there’s a little room where we store those memories. A room like the stacks in this library. And to understand the workings of our own heart we have to keep on making new reference cards. We have to dust things off every once in a while, let in fresh air, change the water in the flower vases. In other words, you’ll live forever in your own private library.” ~pg.485
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