Saturday, December 05, 2009

Haruki Murakami - Kafka on the Shore

I can be highly suggestive when it comes to picking literature. I am more likely to pick up a book that has been written about well, and spoken of as a classic. It was this instinct I followed when picking up Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. Why this one by this writer? Because Kafka is my favorite author and I liked the use of his name.



Some books are not written asking for appreciation. They exist and wait for you to pick them up to read. If you do so, YOU are rewarded, if you don't its YOUR loss. This is that kind of a book. It does not hang around waiting for you to award it 4 or 5 stars, it is 10 stars already, and if you recognize that fact, its your good luck.

Now, what kind of a genre does the book fall into? Is it a romance? Drama? Fantasy Fiction? A coming-of-age tale? A combo of the last two? It does defy compartmentalizing. What do genres exist for anyway? So that the bookstores and librarians know where to slot it?

I am asking a lot many questions, mainly because I am trying to find words and phrases to describe the book best, knowing I am going to fall short. Ok here goes.

Kafka on the shore is about a 15 year old boy who is trying to escape a horrific prophesy. To avoid it, he has to run away from home. On his travels he learns about life and that even if he cannot avoid fate, he learns to deal with it. He is also trying to find the answer to a question that dogs most children who have to do without a parent - Were they loved?

"Every time we wish for something with our whole heart, the universe conspires to fulfill it." We have heard this phrase a lot recently. Here in this book we get to see how exactly the universe conspires. We get a bit of 'behind-the-scene' activity that can qualify this books as fantasy fiction. But as the setting is our world, the 'other world' element is so well integrated, that it seems like an everyday happening. The 'niceness' of everyday happenings soften the blow of the bad things that are actually happening elsewhere.



Murakami is an intellectual with varied tastes, you can see as you read his book. And he wears his it on his sleeve proudly, quite like TS Eliot. His literature shows up his taste for western music, philosophy and literature quite unabashedly. He references a lot of a music and books and speaks about them through some knowledgeable character. I quite like the 'international' feel of the book. Though it is set in Japan, it is so contemperory, it could have been in any corner of the world. There are no overt 'cultural' references. No Japanese tea ceremonies or bowing or references to the ancient cultures being best.

The book is crazy, wild, sexy, original and simply fantastic.

What am I going to do next? GRIN. I am going to pick up some Beethoven music that Murakami talked about. I am also going to pick an anthology of Prince, a musician that I love and so does Murakami, and so did Micheal Jackson. Oh. I am going to pick up Norwegian Wood by the same author.

26 comments:

Shona said...

This is one great book . And ur right some books don't ask for appreciation. They do wait to be picked up someday when are ready to be bedazzled by them. I absolutely loved this one..

avdi said...

Shona, I finished reading it yesterday and its still going around in my mind..

Capt.Anup said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Capt. Anup Murthy said...

I had seen this on the shelf but did not go for it as I was looking for a "genre"! Your review makes me go and get it straight away! I will, however resist for now, since I am looking for another "genre" book, one on humor (so hard to find well written humor) for our Book Club discussion. I am tempted to do both, though!
BTW I posted using another google account above and hence deleted it. I apologize.

avdi said...

Anup,

Well written humour? PG Wodehouse. I dont know any recent ones. If you find a book by some good author, do recommend it to me.

Reading Kafka was an awesome experience for me. Am not able to pick up any other books right now. Maybe in a day or two.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

We are looking for something apart from PG Wodehouse! The book club has a PG Wodehouse dedicated sitting at a later date. Will let you know if I find interesting humor. I have one that I liked but that is from a Malaysian author and perhaps not easily available everywhere. It is called "Confessions of an Old Boy" by Kam Raslan. This is one funny book and well written by a English writing journalist in Malaysia.

WhatsInAName said...

Awesome review as always. My list grows longer. I have not even read Kafka as yet; but will keep both eyes open for this one as well.
So, Beethoven next? How do you manage your time? I wish I was as time-efficient as you!

Bouncing-Bubble said...

so much ur impressed.. i must read this one.hopefully after shifting and settling.

evanescentthoughts said...

Oh looks like it is a good book. Should pick it up. I havent read a single book written by this author. Should give it a try. Thanks :)

avdi said...

Anup, I love journalists recounting their experiences. They are often narrating real happenings, which makes it better.

avdi said...

WIAN, kids are grown up and I dont have to commute. That saves precious hours. Plus the long weekend. At least one story by Kafka you should read. He is beyond amazing.

avdi said...

BB, Shifting is really hard. Hope you settle down soon

avdi said...

Avada, I wanted to read atleast one Murakami too, and now am hooked.

Vee said...

I am reading Kafka (thnx to u) and will surely surely go for this one once m done with 'Metamorphosis'.

I am so in awe of that last para... Tell me all about those things... interesting..

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Avdi, I agree. Kam Raslan's tale is based on an actual bureaucrat in Malaysia although in the book he is not identified (for obvious reasons) and with his interaction with the Government there, he brings out the humor in this book. It is a small book, not heavy reading, very light stuff with several LOL moments.

Smita said...

Ah a Vintage Ava review :-)

The way you have described it am already half in love with the book and will go hunting for it 2moro!!!

thebutterflydiaries said...

Thanks! From the names of the book and author I would have passed it by! I am bookmarking this one for my local library!

avdi said...

Vee, look for Archduke, beethoven on you tube. I listened to a couple of tracks and they were fab. I will tell you more later

avdi said...

Smita, so swt of you :)

I hope you like it. If you dont, send your copy to Vee :D

avdi said...

Ashwin, The book is awesome, I am going to read some more Murakami.

couchpapaya said...

i have been wanting to read some books by murakami after a short story i read some time ago (did you post about it in MS??). loved this bit 'some books are not written asking for appreciation' - so true! will put on my TBR!! enjoy the music!

avdi said...

CP Nope this is the first time I read Murakami. He is amazing. Truly a modern writer. I cant wait to read some more of his works.

I love western classical, and Indian classical as well. I just wish I could hear more of it.

YOSEE said...

Havn't got around to reading a Muakami to date ; no particular reason. I saw this "Kafka" book showcased in our bookstores here but dithered because of a niggling thought that it might be abstruse.Now, am gonna trust your word and get a copy asap.

avdi said...

:) You wont be disappointed Yosee !

Yword said...

Hi ava, I burnt my fingers with Murakami's dance ,dance, dance and havent recovered yet to attempt him again. I am sorely tempted after reading your blog though :)Will browse it and see. Dance,dance, dance was mindblowing in the first part which is why i picked it up but then it got pretty bad. anyway like you said i am a very suggestive person too so,,,,,,,,,,

avdi said...

I am trying to get Norwegian Wood. I am negetive suggestive as well.. so I dont think I will pick up Dance Dance DAnce .. hehe !

 
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