Kafka on the Shore is not for everyone.
It is not so much the fantasy that features prominently in the book but that it is a story that is hard to get into. The first few pages do not grip your attention the way say Sputnik Sweetheart does. However, once you get the flow of the story the Murakami that we all, including critics, love emerges.
Fantasy is a genre that I stay away from. I did however enjoy Stephen King’s Hearts in Atlantis which has traces of fantasy in one of the stories. To be honest I kept reading Kafka simply because it is Murakami’s. And yes I ended up loving it.
Murakami crafts characters that stick with you, that become friends you laugh with and whose quests you share. Kafka on the Shore is not an exception; for me these characters are Oshima and Hoshino. Oshima works at the library that beckons Kafka. Oshima knows his Greek Tragedies and plays a pivotal role in the story. Hoshino is the truck driver who gives a lift to Nakata and ends up making Nakata’s journey his own.
In the plot, the story is riveting in true Murakami style as we follow in the footsteps of Kafka Tamura and Nakata. We travel in time and across spirits to connect the past and the present of these two people as well as Kafka’s mother and sister. One wonders though why a father would wrap up a son’s future in a curse and hand it over to him in his tender years.
As I always do, I ended up collecting beautiful words from Kafka on the Shore just like this:
If Murakami is your writer then by all means I highly recommend Kafka on the Shore.