Kafka on the Shore is the first Murakami book I have read. I also read fiction after a long time. The book follows an interesting format. Two protagonists and their stories take up the odd and even chapters in the book. As you read you actually feel you are reading two different stories and keep waiting for the point where they would converge. One of the protagonists is a 15-year-old boy who calls himself Kafka, whose story begins when he runs away from his home in search of himself, his mother and his sister, conditioned with a curse from his father.
His intuition leads him to a library, where the librarian helps him. And he finds his mother and somewhere on the way he also finds his sister and related to them according to his father’s curse. He enters a jungle where time has no meaning but on his dead mother’s advice comes out of it to lead a normal life.
The other protagonist Nakata is a character you fall in love with. He is someone who lost his memory and his ability to read and write. And is probably the most contented person. He calls himself empty and his actions become predictable after a while. But you still love that. Somewhere I guess all of us would love to be empty like him and have no complications around us. He is lead to murder Kafka’s father. But he is not sure how he did that. His intuition then also takes him to the same library where he is the last person Kafka’s mother interacts with. Apparently, she has been waiting for him, before she dies. After he finished the job she entrusts him with, Nakata also dies.
There are lots of loose ends in the story. Characters are always moving on their intuition. There is no connection of rainfall of fishes and leeches and how Nakata comes to predict them. Nakata can talk to the cats but loses this ability after he does a murder. After he does the ability is suddenly passed on to the driver who helped him reach the library. The whole story of the entrance stone does not tie up. The story is dark, has a lot of unexplainable metaphysical elements, weaves in Greek mythology here and there. At times looks like an attempt to connect too many things.
The book Kafka on the Shore could have been 100-200 pages shorter and crisper. It starts in a very interesting manner but looks dragging after around 400 pages. The end is not very interesting as after so many twists and turns in the story you expect something in the end as well. But nonetheless, once you start reading, you would finish it easily.
Buy this book – Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami at Amazon India.