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‘Kafka on the shore’ by Haruki Murakami February 6, 2007

Posted by ayasawada in Books.
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Kafka

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In short: A darker Murakami?

Thoughts: I’ve heard it said that the Tokyo gas attacks had a profound effect on Murakami and that his works after the event are somewhat darker, with a more serious tone. Being the first ‘post-attack’ Murakami story I’ve read, this would seem to be the case.

Kafka is the usual strange tale of a lonely male – or in this case, lonely males, since, for once, his story has two protagonists. They go on a journey, there’s weirdness, hints of strange dimensions, music, sex, very visceral depictions of cooking and scenery. But there is definitely something slightly different in his tone.

Some themes are familiar (loneliness, love, sex, destiny), but seem to be handled in a much more edgier way than in previous novels. others (murder, incest, hate)I realise there have been deaths and murder in previous novels, but somehow the actions seem a little more real, with more serious consequences.

Murakami always writes about urban isolation and loneliness in the modern era, but it’s a different kind of loneliness he describes here. Maybe it’s the 15 year old protagonist, but that loneliness seems much more frightening, stretching out into the distance and beyond, with no end in sight.

He also seems to make use of a range of narration techniques. I’ve mentioned the use of multiple protagonists and this novel seems to have far more characters and angles than any of the previous four books I’ve read. But the most striking of which is the sudden change of perspective to the (unusual) second person. I can’t really explain it without giving a bit of the story away, but it’s perfectly chosen and very effective for the perspective he portrays.

Overall it’s a different Murakami experience. But given my previous opinions on Murakami’s writing, you can probably guess what I’m going to say. Beautifully written, thought-provoking and very addictive – all the hallmarks of classic Murakami.

Comments»

1. 1Q84 (Books 1, 2 and 3) by Haruki Murakami « Canned Memory - January 15, 2012

[…] used multiple narratives of course, and he’s used it to much better effect in the likes of Kafka on the Shore or Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. But it gets a bit more interesting when he […]


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