Friday, December 22, 2006

Kafka on the Shore

Over my one week backpacking trip in Cambodia, I've finished reading a novel which was bought 4 months ago - Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. I've read his other bestselling novel before - Norwegian Wood and had enjoyed it. Every now and then, Japanese flavour (its culture, food and names) surfaces in his novels and subtly reminds his readers that it is a translation after all. He douses his writing with lines from famous philosophers and writers to enhance the joy of reading and strengthens the emphasis his characters try to make. The storylines are often unique and surprising, and probably ambiguous, but wonderfully and beautifully metaphorical.

Kafka on the Shore is about a fifteen-years old runaway in search of his mother and sister, and unexpectedly stumbles into a series of events which fulfilled his father's prophecy - killing his father, and sleeping with his mother and sister to be with them. Golly, what kind of warped notion is that?

No, it is not another Flowers in the Attic kind of incestuous relationship and it isn't so much of a typical Oedipal Greek tragedy here. Somehow, Murakami beautifully wraps the story in metaphors whereby one escapes to unknown places for soul-seeking (not searching) and to zones where time and memory are still and age is trapped. A strange man loses his worldly abilities in the academia but gains supernatural abilities to speak to cats and create significant effects in the metaphysical world of desires and dreams. A spiritual flute made by 'Johnny Walker' from the souls of cats; a quirky and mysterious 'Colonel Sanders' who provides answers and solutions to end searches (Nakato's goal and the police's search for Crow); a complicated-gendered but well-read librarian and an uncouth man with typical physical needs who learnt to appreciate the aesthetic nature of classical music and knowledge through books.

As the novel spoke of being lost in a mental labyrinth, physically wandering in an unfamiliar forest, comprehending ways in an adolescent maze, I have thoroughly enjoyed meandering around in the labyrinth with the characters within the novel itself.

I'd rate it 6.5/10.


Blogger avalon thought ...

I love Murakami. My favourite moments in Kafka is when Hoshino goes into that coffee parlor. As usual, Murakami describes the music piece, and all other simple treasures one notices when lounging an afternoon away. With Murakami and all his work, I fall in love with enjoying music, drink, words, and even the simplest company, myself included.

1:43 am  
Blogger Ivan Chew thought ...

A colleague "challenged" me to read Murakami. So I did. I read "Norwegian Wood". I'm not exactly hooked on Murakami but I'm intrigued to read more of his stuff. There's something... fascinating about the way he writes. Wonder how it reads in the original Japanese. Guess I'll never know.

12:37 am  
Blogger SeaLs thought ...

Yes, 'Norwegian Woods' was intriguing.

Hence 'Kafka on the Shore'.

What are you reading now?

12:02 am  

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