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Book Review: Kafka On The Shore

Updated on July 8, 2014

The Title's Origin

Kafka on The Shore's title comes from a portion of this work's story that describes a song entitled "Kafka on The shore". The song is meant to unite many of the themes in the work and allows the protagonist to make sense of the events happening all around him. "Kafka on The Shore" is a song that instills hoped in the protagonist and therefore strengthens the themes of isolation.

Synopsis of Kafka On The Shore

Kafka on The Shore chronicles the story of a fifteen year old boy named Kafka. Early on, Kafka packs his bags and what little money he can collect, and runs away from living under his father who seems to have lost all hope for life. His mother and sister have since left the family, coaxing Kafka to search and, one day, find his long lost relatives. Throughout his journey, Kafka makes new friends in Oshima and Sakura who help Kafka along his quest for truth and reality.

Meanwhile, Nakata, an elderly man who speaks to cats, sets out on a journey to find a missing neighborhood cat. As a child, Nakata experienced an injury, and thus has lost a part of himself. The trade off, his ability to speak to cats.

Kafka on The Shore is a story leveraging a beautifully written magical realism story that evokes the power of human thoughts and emotions. Kafka on The Shore is daring in the sense of its ability to challenge what is what and what is fantasy.


About Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami is a contemporary Japanese writer whose works have been translated in over fifty languages. He is an award winning writer and has been considered to be an important figure in postmodern literature. He was born during the "baby boom" that followed after World War II in Japan where his parents taught Japanese literature. Haruki has fused much of his western influences into his literature throughout his career.

Haruki Murakami is a lover of music (particularly jazz and classical) and has even opened up a coffee house and jazz bar called Peter Cat. Haruki appreciates music just as much as writing. He also encourages the translation and adaptation of his works. Another work that Haruki is quite famous for would be The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle that was published in 1999 before Kafka on The Shore in 2002.

5 stars for Kafka On The Shore

Review of Kafka On The Shore

Caution: This review may contain spoilers

As a reader and a writer, I believe it was my duty to review some of the stellar and not so stellar works that I pick. I have Avid Readers' Club on Facebook where I post monthly books and review them for my friends and my audience here on HubPages. Writing reviews has been an eye opener as a writer and an experience as a reader.

Kafka on The Shore is the most emotionally driven work I've ever picked up. That might be due to the fact that the writer, Haruki Murakami, is experienced and talented. Also, his writing style is written in the present tense with the protagonist Kafka and in the past tense with the protagonist Nakata. While these two never meet, their stories surprisingly intertwine in the most beautiful and surprising ways.

At first glance, I believed this to be a coming of age story about a boy who runs away from home. However, when I get deeper, I find myself in a story of magical realism, cynicism, sexuality, and psychosis. Kafka and Nakata both are seeking some sort of task, a meaning to their lives despite the feelings they have of losing oneself. This, in essence, is the theme of this story.

Early on the book sets up backstory to support the present. Those parts were confusing for me at times, but it all came full circle as a revelation to the character Nakata who is otherwise the wise one in this story. There are also allusions to other works in this book that I happened to pick up on. This book was not written simplistically and it was beautifully translated from its original Japanese language.

Talking cats, Entrance Stones, Living Spirits, you name it. Murakami's magical realism within this story is so well blended into the themes of the book. They're used as a method of showing us how things could be versus how they are. There's also a prophecy and a sexual encounter that will always be in my memory. If you'd like to read Kafka on The Shore, please note that it is not for children and a very mature work. There is language and sexuality throughout, but it's tasteful and relevant to the story.

There are quite a few things I don't understand and perhaps they will come to light after a second read. Kafka on The Shore is no easy read and plays with the reader more than once. I suggest you pay close attention to the details to ascertain the writer's message.

Kafka on The Shore makes me want to read more of Haruki Murakami. If you agree, I want to hear about it! Thanks for reading!


In 2012, Japanese theater director Yukio Ninagawa adapted Kafka on The Shore into a stage production. He hoped that Haruki Murakami would not see it. It can be said that Yukio felt he couldn't do such a wonderful work the proper justice. His love the writing is what compelled him to begin plans to adapt the story to screen. After two years, the play is finally touring domestically in Japan. It will reach countries London, Australia, China, Singapore, and France in 2015.

Kafka on The Shore has been reviewed as a captivating piece and advises viewers because of its mature themes. You can find out more about the stage play by reading up on the stage production through internet or magazine articles.


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    • CrazedNovelist profile image

      A.E. Williams 2 years ago from Hampton, GA

      Thank You!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Looks like a good book. Great review!

    • CrazedNovelist profile image

      A.E. Williams 3 years ago from Hampton, GA

      Thank you for the feedback! I appreciate you! :)

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      A brilliant review and thank you for sharing. Here's wishing you a wonderful day.