Book Review: Kafka on the Shore


Kashfia Hassan


“On my fifteenth birthday, I’ll run away from home, journey to a far off town and live in a corner of a small library.”

 

And so, on his fifteenth birthday, Kafka Tamura fills a backpack with necessities and takes off, desperate to get away from a father and fate he detests. With no set plan, he starts his journey, listening to his inner voice for guidance and life takes him exactly where he needed to go. A few days after Kafka’s departure, Nakata, an ageing simpleton (who lived a few blocks from Kafka) also sets off on an unplanned journey to fulfil his destiny. The story parallels between their journeys and although they never directly cross paths, their lives are interwoven by unexplainable incidents and they change each other lives forever.

This book has been on my shelf for a few years, but it amazes me how the universe always ensures the right time for us to read a certain book. It’s almost like the book beckons you closer and whispers, “It’s time. You’re ready for me.” This book perfectly presents the magic that ensues when you leave things up to fate. I’ve never been much of a planner, my philosophy in life is to follow my instincts and go with the flow — I believe life will make sure everything falls into place. Thus it was easier for me to appreciate how the apparent mistakes and rash decisions taken by the main characters took them exactly where they needed to be.

This book was surely one of the strangest ones I’ve ever read with unreal occurrences, and unexplained connections. It was also addictive, enchanting and heart-breaking. One thing is certain — Murakami’s books are filled with beautiful, relatable and soul touching quotations.

Besides, another thing that his books are filled with are loose ends. The first book I read by Murakami was a short story, and at the end, all the loose ends really bugged me. I liked the mystery but I was curious for explanations. But this time around, it was much easier for me to let go of the answers and explanations. It didn’t matter why certain things happened, or how they happened, how certain people and events were connected. They just were, and it is up to us to draw our own conclusions.

When you look past the craziness, it’s one of those books which really makes you think. About life, fate and the gaping holes we all have inside of us. There are parts you can read over and over again, and come up with different meanings each time. With thought-provoking quotations, bizarre events and his effortless magical writing style, Murakami has redefined the magical realism genre.

So if you’re anything like me, don’t worry. Trust your gut, take the next step even if you don’t know why — it will take you where you need to be and one day it will all make sense.

 


Kashfia Hassan loves to write professionally and for fun.

 

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