Why should you read “Kafka on the Shore”? – Iseult Gillespie


“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm
that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm
chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death
just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something
that blew in from far away… This storm is you.
Something inside of you.” This quote, from the first chapter of
Haruki Murakami’s “Kafka on the Shore,” captures the teenage
protagonist’s turmoil. Desperate to escape his tyrannical father and the family curse he feels doomed
to repeat, he renames himself Kafka after his
favorite author and runs away from home. But memories of a missing mother, along with dreams that haunt his
waking life, prove more difficult to outrun. Published in Japanese in 2002 and
translated into English three years later, “Kafka on the Shore” is an epic literary
puzzle filled with time travel, hidden histories, and magical underworlds. Readers delight in discovering how the
mind-bending imagery, whimsical characters and eerie
coincidences fit together. Kafka narrates every second chapter, with the rest centering on an old man
named Satoru Nakata. After awakening from a coma he went
into during the Second World War, Nakata loses the ability
to read and write– but gains a mysterious knack for
talking to cats. When he’s asked to tail a missing pet, he’s thrown onto a dangerous
path that runs parallel to Kafka’s. Soon prophecies come true,
portals to different dimensions open up– and fish and leeches begin raining
from the sky. But what ties these two characters
together– and is it a force either one
of them can control? The collision of different worlds is a
common thread in Haruki Murakami’s work. His novels and short stories often forge
fantastic connections between personal experience, supernatural possibilities,
and Japanese history. Born in Kyoto in 1949, Murakami grew up during the post
World War II American occupation of Japan. The shadow of war hung over his life
as it does his fiction; “Kafka on the Shore” features
biological attacks, military ghosts and shady conspiracies. Murakami’s work blurs historical periods and draws from multiple
cultural traditions. References to Western society and
Japanese customs tumble over each other, from literature and fashion
to food and ghost stories. He has a penchant for musical references,
too, especially in “Kafka on the Shore.” As the runaway Kafka wanders the
streets of a strange city, Led Zeppelin and Prince keep him company. Soon, he takes refuge in an exquisite
private library. While he spends his days poring over
old books and contemplating a strange painting and
the library’s mysterious owner, he also befriends the librarian– who introduces him to classical
music like Schubert. This musical sensibility makes Murakami’s
work all the more hypnotic. He frequently bends the line between
reality and a world of dreams, and is considered a master of magic
lurking in the mundane. This is a key feature of magical realism. In contrast to fantasy, magic in this sort of writing rarely
offers a way out of a problem. Instead, it becomes just one more thing
that complicates life. In “Kafka on the Shore,” characters are faced with endless
otherworldly distractions, from a love sick ghost to a flute made
from cat souls. These challenges offer no easy answers. Instead, they leave us marveling
at the resourcefulness of the human spirit to deal with the unexpected. While Kafka often seems suspended
in strangeness, there’s a tenderness and integrity
at the heart of his mission that keeps him moving forward. Gradually he comes
to accept his inner confusion. In the end, his experience
echoes the reader’s: the deeper you go, the more you find.

100 Replies to “Why should you read “Kafka on the Shore”? – Iseult Gillespie

  1. Next why you should read In search of lost time, Hearth of Darkness or Brother of Karamazov

    Please I begging you

  2. The first Murakami work I have read. Still , one of the most influential and memorable books I have ever read . I really think that Murakami has an authentic way of depicting things that just draws the reader in before they know it . Specifically , I find this book so insightful , so artistic , and so impactful .

  3. This book is so amazing!!!
    And to me it’s evens more special once that I’ve got my masters scholarship by writing an essay about it

  4. This is one of the most vivid books I've ever read. I'll never forget the scenes and imagery portrayed in this book.

  5. Murakami is a leader in his genre, his systematic representation of a fictional but somewhat realistic dystopian society draws in readers looking for an innovative read. His bestseller Kafka on The Shore emulates in its writing an opposite of a manual, telling us that there are no fixed definitions of the morals and principles which an individual needs to make him, so to speak ‘human’ or ‘sane’. Another one of his national bestseller, 1Q84 reflects a country riddled in political and ideological turmoil exhibiting how much of an adaptive author he is making him an all-time favorite.

  6. This was the first book of Murakami I read. I had a great and confusing time reading this. Great because it was all interesting; raining mackerel, a philosophy student in the bed of the driver, Kafka and his butterfly-shaped blood-stained shirt, and Crow (no boring part ever). And on the otherhand confusing because of my ignorance of Kafka's history. I suggest reading kafka's Metamorphosis before this. Anyway, the thrill of every Murakami story always fuels my desire to write my own story as well.

  7. Got this book a while ago but Murakami's works often put me in a bad place so didn't wanna read it until this video. :")

  8. An epic you will not be the same after going through, it links old myths with the hesitation of the present and fear of the future , all mixed in a magical way . Murakami-sensi doesn't promise solutions and won't give them , he just throws the ordeal and force you to think your way out , trust me when I say it's a unique experience .

  9. Hes advertising Storm ,storm is bad and dangerous.
    It should be spaghetti, Spaghetti follows u around till u eat it and gain wisdom

  10. Haven't read that particular book but the Rat's trilogy of his is absolutely amazing in being on the delicate verge between deep thoughtfulness and depression not falling into the latter, but, as often in Haruki Murakami's books, rather elegantly sprinkling the whole atmosphere with good music and day-to-day contemplations.

  11. I started picking up a Murakami's because of Namjoon of BTS (a wise intellectual he is, just restating a clear fact) and definitely stays because of my own will (be it on conscious or the total opposite). I browse through his book list, get the rough idea and some overall pictures through synopses, and start off with Norwegian Wood, as it was reviewed as the only book that is "so Murakami yet so not". It was his only "closest-to-reality" fiction in comparison to his other books that spark out the element of extraordinary imagination, blast creativity and wild fantasy, which of course, became his signature style of writing since the very beginning. Reading this book tho, as the very author suggests, needs a re-read. This book took me a solid 4 days of reading and another good week questioning my self (and eventually my whole being, lol) and the rest googling more info on the internet. I was so desperate trying to solve the riddle and found myself incapable to do so, or at least not in the way i wanted to, more specifically. Spoke in one of the interviews, Murakami explained how he intended to purposely exclude answers to the riddles and leave it to his readers. Of course i do have my own interpretations and it's very interesting and an eye-opening seeing the interpretations of others and see our imagination collides (or even cancel each other)! <3

  12. The video still hasn't answered why one should read it though… I have read it and didn't find it at all like the video described. To me it just felt like pointless rambling

  13. I absolutely absolutely absolutely absolutely absolutely love the weirdness rich vivid imagery of Haruki's novels, specially Kafka

  14. His short stories are just as great. Quite a company during bus and boat rides out of town or under a palm tree in some beautiful beach. He makes you question life. It’s amazing how you read his stories and you seem far removed from the characters as if almost watching them through a microscope and yet feel so connected to their thoughts like you are moving about the same space. Murakami is a legend!

  15. This book is living in my head quietly without even I realizing it. Whenever I see something which has passed in the book, just as a fish, I remember the book. I just can't forget anything about it. It's a masterpiece

  16. Though I liked 1Q84 and Wind-up Bird Chronicles, Kafka on the Shore and Norwegian Wood are my runaway favorites from Murakami.

  17. I had anxiety ridden dreams while reading this book. I was a bit lost in the world of Kafka for a month. It messes with my mind sometimes. I know that's just me but I had to say it. It was like a psychedelic trip, this book.

  18. "Kafka on the shore" was a delightful read. After completing the book I felt a sense of satisfaction which only a few books have managed to provide. Don't know why but this book kept reminding me of "One hundred years of solitude".
    BTW Kafka means Crow ( Correct me if I'm wrong)

  19. Plot twists – The librarian was not 'he' . He was she . And the rest is mystery for u (if u haven't read the book yet )
    I m sorry 😬.

  20. the plot of this book is pretty confusing if you ask me but i feel like the author meant for it to be made that way and also murakami also stated that the book should be read a couple of times for you to be able to grasp the story… but all in all the story is pretty interesting and i like how the story is really coherent, and i feel like Nakata and Kafka are connected in a way that both of their stories are parallel to each other without the two of then crossing each other’s path.. really recommend this book for those who are looking for something that is mind engaging

  21. This book saved my life. I read it as a sophomore in college at a time when I thought my life was falling apart…..in hindsight, it was coming together.

  22. It would be great if you could make one on Franz Kafka , Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Murakami – each unique in their perception and bizarre expression of reality and the hallucinatory quality of their prose, and yet overlapping at certain points.

  23. My problem with Murakami is that it starts off all cool and whimsical, then 600 pages in, you have magical tele-pregnancy via dance cult (read 1Q84 to see what I'm talking about).

  24. I didn't liked this book. The philosophical part was okay, but the questions, mysteries kept unanswered. There was no clear story, plot. I think I just wasted my time reading this book.

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