Updated: Nov 13, 2018
A captivating and intriguing story intertwining the lives of a troubled teenage runaway with a man who converses with cats.
Kafka Tamura is a troubled 15-year-old boy, who runs away to escape his sinister father and to search for his long-missing mother and sister. Shortly after Kafka runs away his father is murdered. Kafka wakes up hundreds of miles away to find himself covered in blood. He finds refuge in a small, private library in a town by the sea where he spends his time reading and contemplating his life and his future. He assists and is assisted by two librarians, the welcoming Oshima and the the remote Miss Saeki in becoming “the toughest 15-year-old in the world.”
Satoru Nakata, is an aging simple man, who has never fully recovered from a childhood incident. This mysterious incident caused him to lose all his memories, as well as his ability to read and write, but he gained the ability to communicate with cats. This skill earns him a little extra money when he is occasionally hired to find his neighbors missing pets. It is in his search for Goma the cat, that Nakata encounters Johnnie Walker, a cat soul-stealer and things don’t go so well between these two men. Nakata is later befriended by a truck driver, Hoshino who takes him on as a passenger. Hoshino become very fond of the old man who reminds him of his grandfather. Nakata and Oshino’s ride turns into quite an adventure.
“It's not just that I'm dumb. Nakata's empty inside. I finally understand that. Nakata's like a library without a single book. It wasn't always like that. I used to have books inside me. For a long time I couldn't remember, but now I can. I used to be normal, just like everybody else. But something happened and I ended up like a container with nothing inside.”
What an intriguing book that is both imaginative and inventive! The book raises more questions than it answers, which is precisely what makes it so intriguing. Author Haruki Murakami says the key to understanding this book is to read it several times. I have only read it once so can’t claim to understand it but I certainly enjoyed it. There is so much to appreciate in this book with references to pop culture, magical realism. alternate reality, mystery and humor. The writing is lyrical, captivating and engaging. My absolute favorite part of the book was Nakata’s character. His manner of speaking was charming and his conversation with cats was just amusing. Overall, Kafka on the Shore is a complex, riddle filled, delightful read.
“Closing your eyes isn't going to change anything. Nothing's going to disappear just because you can't see what's going on. In fact, things will even be worse the next time you open your eyes. That's the kind of world we live in. Keep your eyes wide open. Only a coward closes his eyes. Closing your eyes and plugging up your ears won't make time stand still.”
Publisher Random House Audio
Published August 6, 2013
Narrator Seán Barrett, Oliver Le Sueur