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.
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.
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 : )
Jay When you feel they way you have described about any book or other art work that many other people find "special", it's because the themes that it addresses are not important to you, but they are to many other people. Nothing right or wrong about that. You can find laundry lists of Murakami's common themes and those specifically in this novel in many places, e.g. Wiki, goodreads, etc. I suspect that if you look at those you will think they aren't important to you. If I'm wrong, then you need to re-read the novel to understand how those themes are incorporated into it and developed in it.
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.

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.
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!
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! :)
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.
Vũ Hiếu I see nothing. I added this into my never-read-again-books list!
Alisa K. I was asking myself the same question.
Specially, I was trying to understand why those explicit sexual details.
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.

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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Javier idk man some people are into incest and killing cats for no reason whatsoever lol
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.
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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