Friday, January 18, 2008 by gautami tripathy
Cross posted from my blog
Title: Kafka on the Shore
Author: Haruki Murakami
Publisher: Vintage International/2005
One can call it metaphysical fantasy fiction, with dream and logic going hand in hand. Where dreams starts or logic ends or vice versa do not have clear-cut demarcations. Where the inner us meets with the outer us are not separate either.
Kafka Tamura runs away from home on his fifteenth birthday to look out for his long lost mother and sister. Moreover, to escape an oedipal curse by his father. Another parallel story about Nakata, an old man of sixty plus years, a simpleton who had lost his ability to read and write due to some war affliction follows the main one. Most people take him to be dumb. He has been abandoned by his family and lives on Govt subsidy.
On this journey, Kafka meets many interesting characters like Sakura, Oshima and Miss Saeki. Similarly, Nataka too meets Hoshino, a truck driver who is drawn to this simpleton and quits his job to be with him. Nataka has strange compulsions he does not understand. He knows that his path is taking him somewhere towards a boy he has never met. In this metaphorical tale, cats can talk to Nataka, fishes and leeches rain on his whim. Spirits can travel beyond time and space to make love or kill.
Kafka is a self-sufficient boy. He can survive under any circumstances. He adapts easily. However, he has to find himself. How does he do it? What is his relationship with Miss Saeki? How does Oshima affect him? What does he finally find? Why is he lured towards a painting of boy in a beach? What is the entrance stone referred to in the lyrics, Kafka on the Shore?
Oshima, Miss Saeki and Nakata are all different from the normal and just as fascinating. Hoshino is a normal young man. Still he is drawn to Nakata and sticks to him. Thus, he discovers himself on the way. This novel asks many questions, takes us into different directions. In a way, it tells us to find the answers in the all the signs, symbols and metaphors. We learn about world philosophy, great writers and beautiful quotations. Haruki has a very good knowledge about art, music and world literature..