Sunday, July 10, 2011

Kafka on the Shore

Kafka a 15 year old boy ran away from home and arrived in a town called Shikoku. He spent most of his days in a private library reading , sometimes going to the gym for exercise. Kafka ran from reality and from the prophecy that his father made which was "One day he will kill his father and sleep with his mother and sister". It is one weird prophecy but it made him ran away. He was never close to his father and kept his days in school peaceful without making friends and causing trouble but sadly he has violently hurt some classmates twice. There is something dark inside of him which he did not understand and it's also one of the reasons to run away from fate that's to come. 

One night he found himself waking up from a bush nearby a shrine covered with blood that did not belong to him. He didn't want to go back to the motel he was staying and therefore called Sakura whom he met on his bus ride to Shikoku. He couldn't explain completely what had happened because he had no memories but she still took him in and let him stayed for the night. The next day he left the house with a note saying thank you and went back to the library. Oshima who worked at the library could sense that he was in trouble and decided to help him. He arranged for Kafka to live in a cabin that belongs to Oshima and his brother. The land which the cabin resides was a leftover treasure from his grandfather who has passed. Oshima had once spend his younger days living alone there and asked Kafka to stay there for he will make other arrangements for later.

Kafka was warned not to simply wander deep into the forest as he can easily get lost. Kafka felt that there was a sort of presence in the forest but it was hard to explain. He spend his days reading on the porch, exercising as usual. He tried to explore the forest but nearly got lost, so the second time he went with a compass but it was still dangerous and he gave up. A few days later, Oshima came to pick him up and have arranged for him to work as an assistant to Oshima in the library and was also allowed to stay there for as long as he like. On the way back, Oshima told him some important things which is that Ms Saeki the head librarian is a delicate person and had disappeared previously in her younger days. The timing and the age of Ms Saeki closely resembles Kafka's mother who had left him when he was four. He had his suspicions and tried to find out more.
Meanwhile, Mr Nakata in his 60's who lives in Tokyo is a person who can talk to cats. He is well known by some people that he can easily find lost cats. With the subsidy given by the city because he is considered mentally retarded he lives his life normal and finds cats to earn extra. He helps family find their cat and they just pay him a small amount or some will just provide him meals which is good enough for him. Nakata when young was a smart child but an incident happened when he was around 10 and he lost the ability to read and can't remember how to study at all. Since he couldn't read his parents send him to live with his grandparents. He just sat through school and completed junior high and went on to study below a carpenter. He made old and tradition designed furniture for a living until he was in his 50's and the place got closed down as his boss has passed and the son did not want to continue the business. So Nakata moved to Tokyo with his sibling's help and live alone in a small apartment in Nakano ward.

Nakata search for quite some time for a cat named Goma and got information that at a plain empty land many cats wandered there but a dangerous man lurks there too. This man was known to kidnap cats and Nakata sat there for days to wait for Goma to show up but one day a dog showed up. The dog beckons for Nakata to follow and so he did. He followed it to a house and the door was unlocked and he followed the dog inside. There was a man sitting at a desk and he welcomed Nakata. The man said his name was Johnnie Walker just like the liquor drink . Johnnie Walker told him that he has been hunting cats and cutting  off their heads to collect the soul. He was on a mission to collect cats soul to make a special flute. He expressed that he was tired with what he did but he could not stop himself and asked Nakata's help to stop him and the only way was to kill him. Nakata was troubled as he did not know what to do but that man was starting to kill the cats in front of him and ripped its heart out and ate it in front of him. Nakata could not stand it, there was a feeling burning inside him which made him took a knife and stabbed the man a few times. Blood splattered everywhere including onto Mr Nakata. He collapsed and then woke up in the evening finding himself sitting at the plain field with Goma and also Mimi which was another cat.

Nakata tried to confess his crimes but was ignored by the policeman who thought this old man was senile. The next day, Nakata set out on a journey going somewhere and had to do something. He had no idea where to go but only knew when he reached a place . On his journey he met a young man name Hoshino who assisted Nakata on his journey to Shikoku.

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami is one of the most unique books I've ever read. I can't really pinpoint the genre, but maybe it's thriller, mystery and also fantasy. The book has one chapter alternately for the two characters and slowly you will find the connection between them. At first you read about Nakata's past in a report and it got me wondering what it was about. Right until I started to read about the character in present time that I knew it was about him. This book has a lot of metaphors which is related to life and how to face reality. The author is definitely really knowledgeable and have quoted many famous people. Understanding the metaphors means you understand how we're suppose to view life and when face with dilemma, struggling with fate we still have to live on. How you choose to live and walk on depends on you and at the end you'll face death.  I can say it's a book that makes you think because you will think and try to understand the quotes and metaphors of the book. Many things of the book are left unexplained but I guess it's up to the reader to figure it out or maybe it wasn't meant to be told. This is an interesting read but not a book that I would pick up again but I still recommend it.

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