Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami

This book doesn’t have much sense. Or its florishing list of references that are reunited in its plot for no apparent reason is just too enigmatic and cerebral for us. I still can’t make a decision, whether this story is nonsensical or so meaningful that I can’t figure it out. Anyway, it made me immersed in its world like no other.

The reader follows two distinct but interrelated plots, led by two different characters between whom the story goes back and forth.

?On one hand, a 15-years-old young boy just ran away from home where he lived alone with his father. He knows he has a sister and a mother but can’t remember their faces. His main goal in life is to escape a curse his own father strangely told him: he is going to kill his father and sleep with both his mother and sister. Doesn’t it remind you of something? Right, Oedipus’ curse. To prevent this run away, he chose himself a new name and will be known as Kafka Tamura, in honour of Franz Kafka. His real identity will never be revealed to the reader. He has odd fancies: he doesn’t want to need much food, hence him getting used to eat his meals in very small amounts: he believes that his stomach will be accustomed to it, becoming smaller and smaller. He sometimes interracts with his alter ego, « the boy named Crow« . His escape will lead him to a quiet and private library where he takes shelter. It is ruled by a welcoming, haemophiliac and mentor-like Oshima, as well as a snobbish and distant Miss Saeki. He is attracted to her, although she is old enough to be his mother, whom she may as well be… The police will be interested in Kafka, after a violent murder was committed in the house he just left.

“Closing your eyes isn’t going to change anything. Nothing’s going to disappear just because you can’t see what’s going on. In fact, things will even be worse the next time you open your eyes. That’s the kind of world we live in. Keep your eyes wide open. Only a coward closes his eyes. Closing your eyes and plugging up your ears won’t make time stand still.”


?On the other hand, Nakata is a mentally deficient old man who lost his intellectual faculties when he was younger, during a mysterious incident implying mushrooms and a flash of green light in the sky. However, he discovers that although he can’t have abstract thoughts anymore, he is now able to talk with cats. He even surprises himself as he understands that the fishes falling from the sky for two days aren’t anyone else’s fault but his. His quest begins after he tries to find a cat that mysterously disappeared. He deeply convinces himself that he has to find the « entrance stone« , as well as discovering what it actually opens. His path will bring him to a small library…

“If you think God’s there, He is. If you don’t, He isn’t. And if that’s what God’s like, I wouldn’t worry about it.”
? Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore


To sum up, these two initiatory journeys involve a recurring song, a cat killer whose threat is « Kill me or the cat gets it« , a few characters who are abstract concepts indeed, a truck driver wearing hawaiian shirts, a prostitute who knows Hegel‘s work by heart, a wooden hut lost in the woods, a backdrop of Beethoven’s music, the narrow relation between reality and dreams, a blend of cultures, Tokyo’s districts, the role of subconscious mind… It made me dizzy!

raining fish

“Taking crazy things seriously is a serious waste of time.”   Kafka on the Shore, H.MURAKAMI

2 réflexions sur « Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami »

  1. Oh no, it’s enough to study Oedipe in class so we don’t need to read this kind of book Rachel!! I’m kidding, seriously I’m sure it can be interesting but as you said it seems to be completely nonsense..! I don’t think I will read it one day, nevertheless I liked your article 😉

  2. Aha Rachel why am I not surprised when I see you writing about a novel written by Murakami? Rachel and the Japanese culture … 🙂
    Concerning your article: I haven’t read this book and it seems to be a very strange novel but I love rewriting and as you said it makes me remember of the Oedipus’ curse so why not? It can be useful for the literature aha

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