Kafka on the Shore

by Haruki Murakami

Rating: 4 (8 votes)

Tags: Set in Japan Male author

Kafka on the Shore

A teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom.


Read Around The World Challenge user profile avatar for Kinga
(3 months ago)
17 Mar, 2024
It’s hard to describe what this book is about, but I will try my best to explain it. Kafka on the shore is a magical realism novel about self-discovery and finding your place in the world. We follow the stories of a 15-year-old boy who run away from his home, a man who can talk with cats and an older women, whose lover was taken away when she was twenty. It’s a hero’s journey type of narrative. I loved the general direction of the story, but my favorite part was the atmosphere. It’s a little sad, nostalgic and reflective, and I like moods like that. I really liked Murakami’s writing. It was pleasant to read and easy to get into. However I was disappointed to find out that it doesn’t have the depth everyone claims it does. Murakami is widely acknowledged for his metaphors and his books are said to be a metaphor. First of all, I think that symbolism would be a more accurate name for it, and second of all, I think that the metaphoric sphere of this book is very lacking. Every time the author would use a ‘metaphor’ he would announce it to the reader that hey, attention, this is a metaphor. the reader had no space to think about the meaning of it either, as it was often explained right away, or did not have a metaphoric sense at all. I also liked the characters. The main character wasn’t very interesting, but I viewed him more as a writing tool to tell the story. I loved Mr Nakata, he was a very precious eccentric man, and I also enjoyed reading about Hoshino - a funky lil guy who helps Nakata. My favorite was Ōshima - a transgender man. I appreciate how normalized the LGBTQ+ community was. However I don’t like how his gender identity was used as an argument that he cannot be misogynistic since biologically he’s a girl. There was one encounter with very… overly dedicated feminists and their beliefs were ridiculed, which was another thing that put me off from Murakami. Based on this book, I don’t think he treats women well. Of course, an artist’s work does not have to portray their beliefs, however it’s necessary to address harmful behaviors and acts of micro-agression. From the way women were portrayed in this book (often stupid and always as a tool for men’s pleasure) and the fact that these issues were not contrived, I concluded that Murakami doesn’t like women very much. Except maybe in bed. Another huge problem I had with this book was eroticism. I am not against sexual themes in books in general, it was just the way it was written in this book that really put me off. It did not add anything to the story (other than me feeling uncomfortable), so I think it was unnecessary to even include it. Our main character is only 15 years old, and sure, teens this age have sexual desires, but it feels too young for them to be this explicit. He would think about fucking a woman and then he’d think it would be cool if she were his mother or sister. That was insane. I do not support Freudianism and it was simply gross to read about. What’s worse he had sex with a women in her sixties. If you don’t see a problem with that, you are a part of the problem. Yet the problems do not end there. In the end, it’s implied that Kafka has a dream where he rapes his supposed sister. She expresses she doesn’t want it and the narrator also says it’s rape, and yet it’s condoned and justified as a development of the plot, a portal to the magical sphere of the world. That was absolutely disgusting and I was ready to give this book 1 star for that scene alone. So, what is my final rating? Extremely good question. I really wish that this book simply did not include the unnecessary erotica - it would solve all my issues. I did not sign up for Murakami’s family issues and sexual desires, and yet that’s what I got on top of a story, setting and writing that I liked. I am unable to look past the rape scene and Freudianism, especially given that they were just unnecessary. Not only would this book not lose any treść, but also it would improve my reading experience and probably would help develop the plot. Murakami, Murakami, what to do with you… Kafka on the shore would be and easy 4.5/5 stars for my personal enjoyment if it weren’t for the harmful things done here. I subtract one star for the rape scene and a half for Freudian sexual desires. It’s a huge pity because I really wanted to love this book and I genuinely thought I would. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book, unless you really like Murakami’s writing style and are still interested in the story. Overall I do think “Kafka on the shore” is overrated for what this it is, albeit I did enjoy the story. Seriously, some editorial and it would be great.

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Country: Japan flag Japan
Language: EN

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