Sunday, May 3, 2009

Kafka on the Shore

This is one of my 'Lost in Translation' challenge choices - and it was definitely a challenge. Firstly, to those of my Japanese Literature Challenge friends, this was Murakami surrealism like I've never experienced before. Tres Bizarre! Again Murakami draws me into his web of intertwined relationships with apparently no relationship, and drags me along by the possibilities and potential for the 'apparently unrelated' to become related.

Now - My friends who love their cats, and those who are animal lovers, I cant say this any better that the Sydney Morning Herald - don't read this, or at least skip Chapter 16.

What did I like about the book? I liked Kafka, a 15 yr old boy who is trying to make sense of his life and is trying to break free of his fathers curse on him. He's like any 15 yr old boy whose mother and sister left him in the hands of an obsessed and famous man, his father. I also liked his friend, Oshima, who has had his own personal journal of self discovery as a young person and has made sense of his own story through his choice of gender, cars and books. I was amused by Nakata, the older man who could talk to cats. His simple life suddenly became complicated, and in his own simple way, he tried to make sense of that. I liked the Murakami could find a friend for Nakata, Hoshino - a younger man who was also trying to make sense of his life and loss and made a committment to the older simple man, who couldn't read, to travel with him to read for him. The bizzare appearance of Colonel Sanders and Jonny Walker just add to the twists that Murakami throws in here.

I don't know if there's much lost in translation here, I think it's as bizarre as the author wanted it to be. Again, as with other Murakami novels and essays, I was hanging on each paragraph, and unable to pick the next turn of events. Read it if you're brave - (skip ch 16, as I don't think you'll loose much) - and watch out for Mackerel!


farmlanebooks said...

I love Murakami and this one was no exception! I agree about the cat thing though - probably not the best thing to read if you are a bit squeamish, or a cat lover. He is one of the only authors I have read that make fantasy seem plausible. Great review!

Karen said...

It sounds like I should definitely avoid this one! Just thinking of harm being done to cats make me cry!

Tamara said...

Jackie - thanks. I'm definitely moving on to another some time soon - probably Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman. Any thoughts on that?
Karen - Not your thing, nor would I even let this copy near your place - your feline friend would have me for supper!

Anonymous said...

This book just caught my fancy, and I'm not sure why; Colonel Sanders in a Japanese novel? Bizarre is right! I read somewhere that Murakami intended this book to be hard to decipher. He wanted the reader to work through it several times, which I must admit I will do. I can't help but wonder about the teacher who slapped the boy on the mountain, and if that boy grew up to be Hishono...but, there's so much I wonder. Like, why did that eel thing come out of his mouth at the end? Well, strange as it may be, it's so fascinating, and I'm looking forward to reading it several more times as Murakami wished. Maybe you could read it again for the Japanese Literature Challenge 3? Only kiddding. ;)