Poorva Parashar

WHY is this book so loved? I mean, I didn't gain anything out of it. I'm not asking this as an insult. I genuinely want to know what the special thing about this book is.

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Christopher Weil I think you need to back up a bit in your reasoning. Why do you need to gain per-se at all? Kafka on the shore can't be fully understood because the author draws from many metaphysical sources. That plane of thinking is never clearly defined. But, to get a better understanding of Kafka on The Shore you have to read two of his other books, Hard Boiled Wonderland, and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. Furthermore, I don't believe Murakami is popular for writing books that are "telling" and that's the beauty of his writing. Just like Virgina Woolf wrote stories that have absolutely no plot, which was unheard before her doing so. Much of the literature we read has something telling or something directly communicable. Murakami creates, instead, a feeling that is tied to the environments of his characters. You don't always understand what is occurring in a "this is coming together kind of way" to point to a realization about the character or about life. But there is a sense that you get with each event that he constructs beautifully. And the last thing I have to say, and what I am going to say goes well for most of people's contemporary attitudes about most of the material we consume, and that is, we look and value stories by their content. If you want to know why Murakami has gained acclaim just looking at the bizarre events striking his novels, it is not enough. Murakami has gain acclaim also for his writing style, which is clever, crisp--he simply paints well with words. And just as Marcus Bird has commented many of the plot elements that make-up his novels are difficult to pull off while not losing control of his story. Writers probably understand this better.
Charles There is nothing special about the book. It's simply a messy exercise in intellectual masturbation, rehashing ideas from a dozen other books and managing to create a pointlessly meandering and totally vacuous story about lots of random stuff and people wandering about for no obvious reason. The reason it is "so loved" is because people think that by reading it and by saying they love it, they will sound clever and sophisticated. In that respect, it's a bit like The Alchemist.
Boy Blue Murakami mesmerises his readers. People who love his books find themselves entranced, unable to look away or think of anything else until they finish the book. Each of his novels has a strange atmosphere, something unique to Murakami, it's like a word on the tip of your tongue, a song you can't quite place, or a name that keeps evading you, you can feel it, you can describe it, but you can't name it. In Murakami's novels the ordinary and the extraordinary exist in the same instance and you lose track of which is which.

Kafka on the Shore is also a bildungsroman of a sort you won't have read before. It's not intellectual masturbation, it's a story and nothing gets in the way of telling the story, not reality, nor some reader's desires for explanation or a certain amount of action. The other thing Murakami does is allow you to be more open to the odd and weird things in life and find joy in those. He allows you to find happiness in the ways you are different from others.
Marcus Bird To me it explores a lot of territory in a different way from several of his other books. His other books tend to have some kind of solid closure point, but this one really does take you on a trippy adventure into some metaphysical realms and gives you more questions than answers. It deals with the afterlife, death, murder, responsibility, teen angst, purpose and a host of other things MANY people can relate to. Personally i liked the book but didn't 'love it' in the way say, his book 'Norwegian Wood' impacted me. But my take on your question is that the book sweeps across so much territory (without completely unraveling) is impressive. A world of talking cats and all the stuff I mentioned before that still feels very dark and real it not easy to pull off, and I think this more than anything is the testament to his skill... the world feels 'real' and 'unreal' at the same time. Many writers cannot balance the two very well (so they write either fantasy, or other genre fiction). But this book balances both stories in a way that bring them to a reasonable outcome. Either way, that's what I think! cheers
Michayla I think the beauty of Kafka on the Shore is the fact that you can bring on your own conclusions to an extent, it's almost open ended without being open ended. To me, it was just so humanly raw. So open, so real yet it took you to parallel (and alternate?) universes and dealt with things like reincarnation and the power of memories/ the human mind. It was surrealistic. Haruki Murakami pulled a Dali of novels. A very adult version of Miyazaki. I personally found it to be very interesting and beautifully constructed!
Lee Honestly, this was my least favorite Murakami novel so far. The plot is a Hero's Journey (ala Joseph Campbell) that has been used so many times before. There is even literally a dark, mysterious forest, straight out of Campbell.

Another flaw in my opinion is the philosophizing the characters frequently engage in. Their ideas are often sophomoric. Since most of the characters are young men, that might be a realistic way to describe their views of the world, but these rehashed ideas go on for far too long. It's always a bad sign when the best ideas expressed in a character's dialogue have quotation marks around them. I liked hearing wisdom from Shakespeare, Aeschylus, and others. From Oshima, Crow, or Sakura... not so much. This was disappointing because Murakami can be very profound. In this novel, he just seemed to be trying too hard.

The magical realism subplots were fun, although Johnny Walker, devil incarnate, is just another armchair philosopher.
Brian Brenda This book is so loved because it takes you to places you've never been, only glimpsed in dreams. It's like a David Lynch film, it creates a world different but very similar from our own and conjures enchanting imagery with very few words while narratives weave through each other like ships passing in the night. The book isn't to be 'understood', it is to be experienced, quiet your thinking mind and enter this strange dimension. Take from it what you will but I suggest to let go of expectations and bathe in the mystifying poetry. The criticisms of this book seem to be from people grasping for something and being angry it wasn't there when they opened their hand, when the only way to get close to it is to let go completely. I'm always interested by subtle things that engender so much hostility, so don't be put off and enjoy : )
Hither Kusum No one can keep a reader as hooked to the book as Haruki Murakami's writings do. His writings are irresistible and enchantingly magical. And, I bet, his one novel is not sufficient enough to satisfy a reader looking for more. "Kafka on the Shore" is undoubtedly one of the finest novels that I have come across in recent times. The entire story and all characters seem to be part of a free-flowing surrealist poem that stay in the memory for long. This strikingly beautiful novel leaves an ever-lasting feeling of longing for people whom we lost or whom we can never ever forget.
Linda Friesema Kafka on the Shore was sort of a twist of a modern day Hamlet mixed with a bit of Neil Gaiman type creative writing. I feel like Haruki Murakami is almost challenging you to see if you can move out of your comfort zone to be entertained by this book. While I was reading it a quote by Rumi kept popping into my head.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.”

If you can read this book and not judge the characters and just sort of be a witness to it. It is really quite good.

Oya Yilmaz Most probably it depends on the current emotional/mental state of a person to determine whether he/she can relate to the chords of any given Murakami book. I'm not talking about the narrative since I personally don't care about the plot when I'm reading his books. It's the magical realism that touches me. It might sound weird but whenever I'm reading one of his books, let's say Kafka on the Shore, I find myself instantly synching to the "alternate" reality of the things around me. So I guess it's totally normal if one thinks it's "absolute nonsense" while another feels like reading his/her own journal that is never written.

I highly doubt that I would enjoy Kafka on the Shore if I read it ten years ago though. It's been two years since I've begun reading him and have just found myself in a situation where I do feel familiar with everything he's telling about. In my case, it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

So, if you didn't find it relatable somehow, I'd humbly advise not to worry. We're not talking about a high "gusto" or something. To be honest, I identify Murakami's books as "easy-reading".

Therefore I believe that it's a matter of the state of mind you're in. You may try to read it once again several years later. (B/C I think it's worth the attempt) But if you don't like it anyway, that would again be just normal.

P.S: I would sacrifice a lot for a spin-off of Nakata and Oshima! :)
aPriL does feral sometimes Frankly, it struck me as if it was mostly juvenile emo posturing. The Oedipus mirroring and the classic unrequited love pining which shatters most of the underpinings of Reality and the Universe reinforced my impression of this being representative of a child's unhealing hurt over parental rejection.
Vũ Hiếu I see nothing. I added this into my never-read-again-books list!
Greg That was the first book by Mr Murakami that i read and it also coincided with a previous ingestion of psychedelic mushrooms. These two, the book and the mushrooms go well together. Both communicate the interconnectedness of things and events across spacetime and i think that was one of the reasons i was hooked on this book almost immediatelly.
Louise Dean If you don't get you don't get it. That's life. Worry not. I loved every single moment of this sublime-magical book.
Estrella I feel the same way... I don't know, maybe I did not get or see something, but it was so boring. And, in places, disturbingly disgusting.
Alisa K. I was asking myself the same question.
Specially, I was trying to understand why those explicit sexual details.
Saurabh Sharma "If you pick it up, then finish reading it. Because no matter how dark and weird your dream is, you still want to wake up. Or die in your sleep."

This was my first response after finished reading this book. And when I logged in on Goodreads I found this question. And the answers, phew!

See, you don't have to expect something extraordinary to happen at the end of the book. I read an answer which reads as 'in the beginning it gets you hooked but in the end, everything seems to be pointless." When you live and you die at the end that doesn't mean that everything was pointless. It can be pointless and cannot be depending on what you think of your life and how you lived it and what you left here.

The book is full of philosophical metaphors and yes it is stuffed with the dream-like planes which are hard to comprehend. This complete book according to me is a dream like a sequence playing in real life, shifting gears and blurring dream and reality all the while approaching to its end which is realistic. As in real life, nothing out of the ordinary happens. I hope that explains, if not let's write to each other to understand better.
B. Reese I thought it was an interesting read, a lot of weird stuff happening, which I liked. For me, it was also getting to see a little bit of "slice of life" from Japan. I think I like the weird going hand in hand with everyday things. I also just liked it for the journey
Nathan I hear ya, this book was confusing. I liked how the book read a bit like a fairy tale, or a modern day mythological story. The book reminded me of some anime series, where a bunch of crazy things happen and very few questions are answered. But if you like a "make your own interpretation of what happened" story, then this is for you!
Phairlever Pierson If it's not special to you, it's not special. No worries. I'm not particularly fond of it myself. I find it presumptuous in its deliberate obtuseness. I don't like a book to be a chore. I can't stand Ulysses by Joyce either, the supposed best book ever written. Please.
Sara I was not expecting that this book would get so many negative comments! I really enjoyed it, while reading it I got so involved in books world that I couldn't wait to read it all! I do not think that the main story resides on the plot, there are so many details and elements that make you connect with the characters. I personally enjoyed the old Nakata, and my heart was warmed up reaching such connection. I believe that the writing style, the narrative and timeline are the most important assets of this book. This was the first fiction book I read from Murakami, I had previously read ''What I talk about when talk about running", but ''Kafka on the shore'' was definitely the right choice to enter to Murakami's fictional world!
Ketutar Jensen Why is anything loved? It's a question of personal experiences, emotions connected with sensations, associations, connections, memories... just think about something you love, and why it is so, and you'll know.
Neelam Ksha In the end the whole journey of this beautiful writing seems pointless. What he conceives in the beginning keeps you hooked to know what happens in the end....how things converge at one point, you read and absorb all the weird stuff going around...almost enjoying it and then the writer gets drained of all his creative energy.

I think when the entrance stone enters the story you feel like closing the book.
Andrew Nothing very special about it. I mean compared to most books of this age, it ranks high up there but compared to Murakami's other works, this isn't that good. All of Murakami's climax moments in his books are usually *almost* perfect, but for some reason it only actually captures my attention towards the conclusion.
Ankita H Kafka On The Shore is my first Haruki Murakami book. It left me feeling things that a very few books have the ability to do and I felt I needed to jot them down before I forgot what the first (maybe last?) reading felt like. There's parts of it I like and there's parts that I don't care for.
I feel Kafka On The Shore is a story about self-discovery. I saw a lot of mixed reviews about the book and a common refrain was that it was maddeningly incomplete and left many things unexplained. However, after turning the pages over in my head several times, it didn’t seem that incomplete to me. Right around the time that Kafka explains why he likes The Miner by Natsume Soseki, I kind of knew that this was not going to be a book that leaves you feeling satisfied. This is a story that one has to think about over and over again until you finally make peace with what comes out of it. Kind of similar to how the protagonist is lost and confused but makes peace with his life in the end.
Once you piece the lines on the first few pages and the last few pages together, a lot of things fall into place.
The author brings us 6 characters that live half-lives. They represent different types of people. Some manage to make their lives whole while some others don’t.
Kakfa, a lost kid filled with hurt, does not understand why things in life had to happen the way they did. Cursed with a cruel father and not having experienced the warmth of a mother’s love, he runs away seeking the ‘other’. He struggles with unresolved feelings and guilt. However, he realizes that the storm he was trying to escape was within him and it only dies down when he lets go of his hurt and accepts life as something to be lived. And his half-life becomes whole.
Miss Saeki represents people who lose a part of their soul to the past, forever longing for something that is never going to return. Only death brings them respite and lets them re-embrace the other half of their life.
Nakata represents people who lead a half-life for no fault of their own. Life’s circumstances are beyond their control and yet they eke out a living that feels more or less complete until one day it doesn’t. But they accept the incompleteness for what it was until they pass on to the other world, finally making their lives whole.
Oshima represents people who have accepted the fact that life can be confusing. There are several battles to be fought but life doesn’t have to be a fight. One can chisel out an identity and lead a fulfilling life with the acceptance that lines can be blurry and shadows can be incomplete. Their life is half and whole at the same time.
Hoshino is a relatively average guy that lets life pass him by until his worldview is broadened by chance encounters. He does a course-correction and decides to live the rest of his life with heightened awareness and gratitude, in a pursuit to make his life whole.
Kafka’s father represents the tormented that torment all others to fabricate a purpose for their meaningless half-lives. They lead lives of violence, physical and mental, and are forever stuck between here and there, never having the chance to make their lives whole.
I couldn’t make much of Sakura’s character. Hers came off as a sorted-out personality who knew what they had to do in life and exactly how they had to go about it. And I guess there are people who seem like it.
The symbolism in the book didn’t always talk to me. However, some things made a little sense probably after I added meaning to them. The mention of the supposed UFO sighting on top of the hill brings out the idea that self-absorption of adults sometimes makes them resort to violent behaviors alien to themselves and to the children around them. While the effect on some children is temporary, the damage to some may be permanent. It leaves other grown-ups puzzled as to why certain events transpire and why children turn out the way they do, while the explanation lurks behind the guilty conscience of certain ‘responsible’ adults. It brings out the idea that adults do not often take responsibility for the effect their actions have on their children until much later in life, when it is somewhat romantic to look back at the follies of youth and gain a semblance of self-forgiveness by confessing to what has troubled them all their lives.
The shower of fish in a section of Nakano Ward represents the futility of blessings in this world after people have passed on to the other. What good did the shower of fish do for the cats that had died to satiate the whims of a madman. The student revolt being put down, two days after the Miss Saeki’s boyfriend was killed, reflects a similar idea.
The interpretation of the shower of leeches brings out another idea similar to that fleshed out through Kafka’s father’s character. The gang of bikers torturing one of their own in the parking lot represents how people turn on a friend/loved one and often suck their life out (much like a leech), to pass time in their own versions of hell.
These are some ideas that stayed with me. The longer that I think about this book, the more is the meaning that I seemingly get out of it. I don't know if that's due to the writing or due to my desire to ascribe meaning to it. It’s just one of those books. Had I read this book a couple of years ago, the absorbing imagery and the pull of the inexplicable would have led me down a possibly dangerous mental path, much like the thick forest that the protagonist had to navigate, before I finally got to the other side and pulled myself back to the real world. I was running away from my own sandstorms back then. Now that I am in a different place, I feel that each one of us has the capacity to turn into any one of the characters in this book. Heck, we might end up being all of the characters in a single lifetime. As we walk through different phases of our life, we can look to these characters to make more sense of our own lives and maybe get lucky enough to have the boy named Crow (the voice in our own heads) guide us through it and have the ubiquitous cats keep us company.

Anna It is a failed fantasy or a failed dream. It is loved because of Haruki Murakami world of frightfully unreal characters that maybe lived. It is Japanese and is not readily accessible to the rest of us.
Javier idk man some people are into incest and killing cats for no reason whatsoever lol
Jai This was my third Murakami book after 1Q84 and Norwegian Wood. After reading this is not a bad book, I can safely say, I am not a very big fan of Murakami.

I did not understand all the hoopla over this book, it's an ok book with an ok plot.

Henry Fordney I'm trying to get my own sense of what the book is and represents. It's about how people use fantasy to escape difficult parts of their past and reality. It's about appreciating contradictions without trying to resolve them. It's about the mystery of youth and old age, one which opens entrances and the other which closes them, and which must be shepherded by the middle-aged, namely Oshima and Hoshino. It's about the pain, but also necessity, of confronting the past, the unknown. Ultimately, the plot is fantastic and unintelligible. But life is also fantastic and unintelligible, so we rely on allegory and emotion to make sense of it. In fact, it is precisely this unintelligibility which requires us to interpret the events and motifs of the book symbolically.
Diyako Ako Why do we love it? The good thing? Is that no matter how many times u read the book u can't totally understand it tho u learn alot new things out of it. I have read more than 100 novels and this one is the best by far. So just give it one more try and be patient while reading..
Greg My theory is that people love most the first few books they read by this author, as many are sort of similar. I read "Colorless Tsukuru..." first and "Norwegian Wood" next and liked both better.
FRANCIS HENDRIKS This book as well as other books from Murakami describes in beautiful mesmerizing detail what is happening both in "reality" and within the mind.
Ankita What do you write about a book that's out of this world, literally. It talks about a world where cats speak, long lost soldiers guard a space beyond existence and ghost of Colonel Sanders fix you up.

As a writer, Murakami is so fresh, unique and descriptive, you just don't want the book to end (but you also do want it to end.) This book was my first by this author and I was very much hooked on to the plot that made me loose all of my ability to predict and control what the next pages hold.

The story somehow connects the young adult with an old man on a spiritual, mysterious level and weaves together a tale that gives every element its due respect and space. I am rooting for the cat, but also the hunter. I am praying for the driver but also the librarian. I become the character I am reading, so involuntarily and fluidly.

It is a poetic take on fantasy literature with tints of life thrown so generously, making the reading experience so surreal. Pick it up when you can give in to what you are reading, and this book will take you by surprise.
Francogrex I agree with you. This book is enjoyable to read in the sense that it isn't boring, but there is nothing to be "gained" from it. Some people like myself do not like loose ends and loose ends seem to be a trend these days in movies and books, leaving it to the readers to make their own coherent ending.
Aisha the parallel between the genius and the dumb, and the old age and youth. The way the story wraps together with these different worlds and timelines to connect and create a reality you become invested in as a reader. His writing in this novel is phenomenal and pulls you if you let it
Jeanne Mixon I loved this book. I could see where some people might not like it -- the cats as metaphors for Jews for example could be a turn off. I get that. But it is still a meditation on good and evil and invokes Japanese demons in such a delightful way. The father who is set on destroying the world with the soul stealing flute is a wonderful character very much like the evil brother in law in wind up bird who is going to be another fascist type Hitler type figure unless he is killed in both the shadow world and the real world. Remind me of Mitchell and of Howl's Moving Castle. The black goop people who are evil is the same as the black goop inside everyone in Murakami that is activated by violence. I mean there is so much there. I don't at all see it as intellectual masturbation. I found it intensely fun to read and delightful. But if you don't like it, don't read it I guess.
Boris I agree with Christopher. In order to fully sink into the ideas Murakami is trying to develop in "Kafka on the shore", one must read "Hard Boiled Wonderland" and "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle". Kafka on the shore is a challenging read and people are explaining the events that happen in the story in the wrong way. I am tired of facepalming myself when someone exhales "Oh, he is trying to create modern time myths.". Wtf.
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