Beyond the shores of realism: A review of Kafka On The Shore by Murakami

Beyond the shores of realism: A review of Kafka On The Shore by Murakami

Whoever said happiness can’t be bought, surely, has never received a package of their favourite books! But, How come me, a lover of classics ends up buying and reading ‘Kafka on the Shore’ by Haruki Murakami? Well, that is a long and interesting story for some other day! Though, to say… The kind of things you do for love… is an answer enough in itself.

In a Gist 

But coming back to Kafka on the Shore, It is a story of Kafka and Nakota. Kafka, a young boy who has left his home and wants to make a new life for himself in a faraway town. Or is he searching for the answers from his past? Nakota, an ageing man who seems to have lost his memory and has the ability to talk to Cats.

As these two embark on their individual journey’s, strange things happen. Cats talk, fishes fall from the sky, souls leave bodies and enchanted forests make their way in the main plot of the story. 

Nakota’s simplicity, Kafka’s confusion and the magical realism of the story are more than enough reasons to pick up this hefty book and start reading it. You are promised a journey that will intrigue you, madden you, make you sad but in the end leave you touching the lines on the pages as if they were from holy scripture.

‘Kafka on the Shore’ Writing Style

The novel reveals Kafka and Nakota’s stories in alternating chapters. What is interesting about Murakami is that he always manages to end the chapter on a cliffhanger. How?  Me, a literature student who dissected uncountable novels for six semesters and specifically learnt the art of structural deconstruction, still doesn’t know! 

Murakami’s narration is genius not just because it is structurally solid, but because he uses simplicity. He does not use ornate language or physical setting. His characters will remind you of people you know, talk to and come across every day. The places he uses look exactly like your city, or the forest near you. 

Then, What is it that differentiates Murakami from other writers?  Haruki Murakami seems to respects words. He doesn’t lure you into the story because he wants you to keep reading it. Murakami lets you know that there is wisdom contained in them but doesn’t force you to read them. As if he knows that the ones who are wise enough to understand the wisdom contained, will read and understand and the ones who can’t feel the magic will quit and Murakami, in this instance, ensures that they quit. Such is his diction and narration! 

The Emotion-Time Play

Haruki Murakami’s Kafka On The Shore doesn’t cover years in single sentences or through the course of a few pages like Khalid Hosseini, Leo Tolstoy or some other bestsellers. He merely covers a time frame of roughly one and a half month in the five hundred and five pages in which the story is spread. But this doesn’t deter Murakami from depicting the range of emotions Kafka On The Shore portrays: Love, Lust, Desire, Longing, Insecurities, Acceptance, Struggle, Loneliness… You name the emotion and Murakami covers it. And this is literally just the cherry on the top. There are so many other emotions waiting to be scratched from the surface. The more number of times you read the book, the more you understand it. 

And it’s not like the Murakami writes something extraordinary when it comes to describing emotions. He doesn’t have a new language or cheat-code that we don’t know of. Yet, he will write the emotions you every day feel so simply that you will be left stumped by the ease with which your heart has been wrenched out on paper. 

Murakami’s Flow

Any Discussion on Haruki Murakami’s Kafka On The Shore will not be complete without talking of his writing flow. The thing is that even in his handling of the, let’s say, heavy stuff, He doesn’t throw you in the water. Like, imagine sitting in a boat… Other writers usually throw you inside the water and leave you in the ocean of grief. Murakami gives you a hand, lets you feel and gently touch the water and then helps you sit down in the boat. It is only after you are comfortable with the current, does he pull you up leaving you with an enriched experience.   

Final Verdict on ‘Kafka on the Shore’

Read this novel if you are a fan of the genre of magical realism or metaphysical writing. Read it if you genuinely like reading good stories. Read it if you are a writer or a reader who wants to understand the intricacies of Narration and Diction. Read it if you want a strong anchor in tumultuous times. Read it if you are a fan of music and painting [Surprises await you]. 

See, Murakami doesn’t make you feel strongly, he makes you feel deeply! I started reading Murakami with Norwegian Wood because I had lost my grandmother and needed to understand grief. It has been three years and till date, I haven’t found anyone who has understood what grief does other than Murakami. Kafka On the Shore teaches you a lot of emotions in the same manner. I hope it is the same rollercoaster ride for you as it was for me! 

I will be signing off with my favourite quotes from the book. I hope they give you a further impetus to read it. If there is something you have to say about Murakami or Kafka On The Shore, We at BookArt101 would love to hear from you. Please write to us in the comments below and let me know what other books would you like me to review!

Stay safe and Happy. Cheers!

Quotes from ‘Kafka on the Shore’

“Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.”

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

“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.”

“A certain type of perfection can only be realized through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect.”

“Being with her I feel a pain, like a frozen knife stuck in my chest. An awful pain, but the funny thing is I’m thankful for it. It’s like that frozen pain and my very existence are one.

The pain is an anchor, mooring me here.

You can also learn more about Magical Realism through Salman Rushdie’s books to experience something different.

2 Comments

  1. Mehak Thapar

    I am a Murakami fan. The way he writes and portray things and uses metaphors to describe them. I can never ever get enough of him.
    Absolutely loved the way you reviewed the book. Now I feel like re reading it.

    1. Alisha Verma

      I am so glad this has made you feel like re reading it. We can never get enough of Murakami ♥️

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