Kafka on the Shore

Oh. So this is Murakami.

I was first recommended this read more than a year ago by a friend, but gave up after the first chapter. Nothing made any logical sense and contradictions were all over the place. It's only a year later, lying on my bed in an offshore military camp, that I mustered the courage to fully embrace the book. And although I can't say I fully grasp the underlying message, the book has been phenomenal in providing a source of immersion and escape to which no other can compare.

Kafka on the Shore falls under the genre of surrealism and fantasy-realism. As an avid reader of science fiction, this genre is the complete opposite of what I'm used to. I've always thought cold hard facts and technical explanations were what made books interesting to read, but it turns out that the opposite end of the spectrum is equally entertaining.

It tells the story of three characters wading their way through a dream-like world, each desiring some form of completion to missing parts in their lives. Nakata and Miss Saeki only had half their shadows (again, metaphors galore), and Kafka could never really find love and a home for himself.

Most of the events really don't seem to connect. From fishes falling from the sky to the world in-between, I could find neither a relationship nor coherence to most of the events in the book. Most of these events were never addresses in the end either. Yet in the end, we somehow find ourselves at a comfortable and satisfying conclusion.

Another review of the book I read summed it up well: It's as if we're constantly being pulled apart, between the conscious and the unconscious, reality and fantasy, mundane life and miracles. It is in a deeper sense an exploration of ourselves.

This is a book I recommend to those who want to take trip to a different world, one that is really similar to ours, but not really.