K.D. Absolutely's Reviews > Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
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Feb 20, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 1001-core
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
Recommended for: Tata J and Ranee (who loves Murakami)
Read from March 08 to 11, 2010 — I own a copy , read count: 1

Definitely a page-turner! Once you start, you just keep on reading. Well, why do we stop reading a book? I think we can group the reasons into three: (1) Natural - work, eat, toilet, eyes are tired, other distractions, etc; (2) Boredom - the book or its part is boring; and (3) Need to Digest - sometimes I read a phrase or an idea and it is either hard to understand so I read several times or too beautiful that I want it to sink in and I want to remember it forever.

For my first Haruki Murakami book, Kafka on the Shore, I could not put it down because there is never a boring part especially the first third and on a lesser degree, the second third. I was expecting the last third to be the part where he should give the conclusion: tie up the many loose ends. All the while, that was the part where I though I should see his utter brilliance. He did not. He chose to let all ends hang loose.

So, when I closed the book, I was groaning in front of my daughter. What? That's it? Ganun na lang ba?. So, I said, hmmm 3 stars. Then I remembered what Doris Lessing wrote in her introduction to The Golden Notebook that if a novel is not open for interpretation, it is a boring novel. What makes a story interesting is if it open for interpretation and the more interpretations, the better.

I am giving this a 5 star. But this book is not for everyone. If you are the type who asks questions like: so what happened to this character? why was he like that? where did he come from? how did this happen? what is the connection of this and that? Then don't ever lay your hand on this Murakami masterpiece. Stick with your John Grisham or Dean Koontz thrillers where everything is explained thoroughly to please your rationale mind. Most readers are like you anyway. That's why those books sell more and they are always there occupying shelves and shelves of your nearby second-hand bookstore.

Murakami, just like other literary masters, does not write to please. He seems not care about public reading preference but he puts in brilliance in his work and it is up to the readers to appreciate his talent.

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Reading Progress

03/08/2010 page 42
9.38% "Even chance meetings are the result of karma."
01/29/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-32 of 32) (32 new)

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Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly You're a very bad boy...


K.D. Absolutely Thanks, Lany.


Niledaughter I said, hmmm 3 stars. Then I remembered what Doris Lessing wrote in her introduction to The Golden Notebook that if a novel is not open for interpretation, it is a boring novel. What makes a story interesting is if it open for interpretation and the more interpretations, the better.

I really loved this part :) I closed the book and I think I will remain thinking about it for days .


K.D. Absolutely NILE: Yes, it took me a while to get over this book too.


Cathie Based on your high review, this will be my next book. It seems people love this book or they don't.


K.D. Absolutely CATHIE: I loved this book. Well, maybe because it was my first Murakami.

Murakami is kinda "formulaic". You'll get sensitized once you're familiar with his writing style and tend to dislike the last ones you'll read of him. So, my advice to you, if you are planning to read all his books, is not to read them in close interval. Maybe let 6 months pass in between each.


Beatrice I'm reading this again for my Advanced Placement English class. I love how Murakami is very unforgiving with the riddles. It does prove that yes, he doesn't really write to please anyone.


K.D. Absolutely Agreed, Bea. Happy reading. :)


Lisa P I think I am of the type who asks questions like those you said I would - yet I still really enjoyed your review. One of my favorite parts of reading a book such as this is reading other peoples' interpretations after I've finished and letting the book expand and unfold in my mind that way. So thank you ;)


message 10: by K.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely You're welcome, Lisa!


Srinivas hello, KD
u r absolutely right, Murakami's works are not for those who cant interpret beyond human conciseness.
His characters are really hard, for me, to put in a rational way.
rationality is just hard to describe his characters. no words to say his intriguing, masterfully oven prose, as delicate as a thread but cant break it,

I searched for this book in every second hand book stall in our city, i didnt get it.


message 12: by Reem (new) - rated it 5 stars

Reem Thank you for this review. I just finished reading this book and am still confused as to what really happened but somehow it just doesn't matter with Murakami's novels - particularly After Dark, which seems to have no plot whatsoever (funnily enough, it is one of my favorites). But yeah. You're exactly right. I recommended Murakami to two of my friends and both of them said they liked his writing style but what drove them insane was the lack of clarity which I had warned them about from the very beginning. This isn't my first novel by him - in fact, it's my fourth, if I'm not mistaken!


message 13: by K.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Srinivas: Thanks!

Murakami's books are also not available in our second-hand bookstores. Looks like people buy, read and keep his books.


message 14: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Nice review KD. I plan to read this soon.


message 15: by K.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Thanks, Sue. Can't wait to see your review.


message 16: by Ceecee (new) - added it

Ceecee true, murakami's books are always open to interpretation. it was a little frustrating though because the book was part mystery and he really didnt explain the mystery very well. im used to agatha christie's novels where the ending ties up loose ends.

what i likr about murakami's books is their sense of the absurd, as if the absurd was part of everyday life, which it really is if you think about it.

but i couldnt like kafka all that much. maybe he should have been older. hoshino and nakata were splendid. :)


message 17: by K.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Ceecee wrote: "true, murakami's books are always open to interpretation. it was a little frustrating though because the book was part mystery and he really didnt explain the mystery very well. im used to agatha c..."

Ceecee, I liked Nakata too. I don't remember Hoshino anymore. Is he the teenage boy? When I wrote this review, I was not jotting down the names of the main characters yet.


message 18: by Rupert (new) - added it

Rupert Ranas It's Murakami's best one so far. I just finished my second round and Chapter 42, for me, gave the hint to the entirety's conclusion.


message 19: by K.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Thanks for affirming my belief that this novel of his really is his best. This was my first Murakami and yes I felt that way and still feel the same.


message 20: by Aliaa (new) - added it

Aliaa El-faham Hey, i am just starting it and feel good about it but i cannot get the part of the army intelligence section?!! Is it inspired from true events or just out of the author's imagination?! Since i amnot so familier with Japan's history. If u help me, i will be so grateful. Thanks :))


message 21: by Aliaa (new) - added it

Aliaa El-faham Hey, i am just starting it and feel good about it but i cannot get the part of the army intelligence section?!! Is it inspired from true events or just out of the author's imagination?! Since i amnot so familier with Japan's history. If u help me, i will be so grateful. Thanks :))


message 22: by Aliaa (new) - added it

Aliaa El-faham Hey, i am just starting it and feel good about it but i cannot get the part of the army intelligence section?!! Is it inspired from true events or just out of the author's imagination?! Since i amnot so familier with Japan's history. If u help me, i will be so grateful. Thanks :))


message 23: by Aliaa (new) - added it

Aliaa El-faham Hey, i am just starting it and feel good about it but i cannot get the part of the army intelligence section?!! Is it inspired from true events or just out of the author's imagination?! Since i amnot so familier with Japan's history. If u help me, i will be so grateful. Thanks :))


message 24: by K.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Aliaa wrote: "Hey, i am just starting it and feel good about it but i cannot get the part of the army intelligence section?!! Is it inspired from true events or just out of the author's imagination?! Since i amn..."

I think it was inspired by a true event. Murakami is a Japanese, after all.


message 25: by Aliaa (new) - added it

Aliaa El-faham Thanks K.D :))


message 26: by Cxl (new) - added it

Cxl I'm currently reading 1Q84. I'm thinking of continuing with Murakami and now that I read your comment, I think Kafka on the shore will be the second book by him. Thanks! :)


message 27: by K.D. (new) - rated it 4 stars

K.D. Absolutely Cxl wrote: "I'm currently reading 1Q84. I'm thinking of continuing with Murakami and now that I read your comment, I think Kafka on the shore will be the second book by him. Thanks! :)"

Cxl, thanks for trusting me.

I hope I'll agree with me. Hmmm, we all have different taste on books though. :)


Caroline I agree with you wholeheartedly. Murakami's endings always seem so abrupt, so awkward, but what I've noticed is that they are indeed endings. They conclude the story and the reader understands that, yes, the story is over. Murakami doesn't write his book to have strings to tie together at the end. He has a ball of yarn that unravels but bunches up again at the end. The end is never satisfactory per se, but I don't put down the book feeling like I'm missing something.


message 29: by Allyson (new) - added it

Allyson Painter Yes! I've always found that other books left me disappointed because they didn't leave any room for interpretation. Especially the books where they don't tie up loose ends until the very end and I've gone through the whole thing thinking I understand, developing my own thesis only to have it shot down.

Murakami is brilliant at writing something worth interpreting. After reading this and having much the same reaction you did, I felt that I needed to look at others' interpretations to see how closely they matched mine and it was almost like reading the book again. I read review after review of what the end forest meant with the two soldiers and how the cat flute tied into the rest of the book.

So wonderful. He is an amazing author.


Cynthia Chan The loose ends are what make his stories interesting. Can't agree with you more! Gonna start my next Murakami journey - south of the border, west of the sun. Can't wait!


message 31: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy Funny that you should mention The Golden Notebook. I read that right after reading this!


Medhavi Gupta I was super excited with how the things were going in my first Haruki's novel. Before the last chapter, the constant thoughts in my mind were: "wow 'amazing' is the word for this beautifully written novel. But with only one chapter left, how will the writer clear all my doubts" was my big concern. Still with the hope that not all but the major doubts must have been taken care of by him, I completed the last chapter. after realizing that the novel has ended suddenly, similar was my reaction..." 3 stars. ".
And after reading your comment, i understood, I should opt for the John Grisham books instead to satisfy my rationale mind. Though wasn't expecting explanation of each and every part, but expected answers to some questions like whether Ms Saeki was his mother or not and few more doubts like this. So yes, not my type I guess. Though, loved his way of writing, just felt SO many things shouldn't be left for the reader's imagination. But that's only what I feel!


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