If you happen to be unfamiliar with Haruki Murakami: he writes these delightfully weird, surrealist1 novels that are somehow simultaneously indecisive yet utterly certain of their subjects. Declaratively ambiguous dreamscapes that are half-hatched out of unimaginable futures.
So with that in mind: Kafka on the Shore is like a bizarrely Oedipal Catcher in the Rye—except that instead of following an introspective pathetic fuck-up2, it follows an introspective tormented wretch3. And instead of being surrounded by phonies, he’s surrounded by a cast of protean, vaguely misanthropic that are all camped out on the various fringes of…. Well, without giving it away, all I can really say is that they’re on the fringes.
The novel spends a lot of time at those fringes, side-stepping the easy and burrowing pretty deeply into itself. This is definitely Murakami’s take on the classic (classically Western?) coming-of-age novel. Strongly recommended: ★★★★★
- I can’t bring myself to use the phrase “magical realism”. [↩]
- That would be Holden Caulfield. [↩]
- That would be Kafka Tamura. [↩]