Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami

I just finished reading Kafka on the Shore.

How do I even begin to describe this book? Let’s start with the bare facts. Kafka is a fifteen year old boy, who runs away from home, in part to escape the Oedipal curse his father lays upon him, and in part to find his mother and sister, who abandoned him as a child. Meanwhile, Nakata is an old man who, due to an accident when he was a child, is a bit slow mentally, but has the ability to talk to cats and has an internal wisdom that leads him to know exactly where he needs to be (if not the reasons why). The lives of these two characters are deeply connected, and yet not.

Things in Murakami’s world involve strange twistings and surreal happenstances. For instance, there’s the boy named Crow, who may be real and may not. A person may be a ghost while they are still alive. Things are unsettled in this book; nothing is certain. Just when you think something is what it is, it isn’t. It’s something more, or perhaps nothing of importance at all.

Reading, you don’t quite know how all this cacophony can possibly fit together and yet it does. It’s a logical disorder, full of metaphysical musings on the nature of the universe. It’s a very strange and beautiful book, or possibly a very strange and deeply unsettling book. But mostly it’s a book that you have to sit and think about for a while, because things are all tangled up after reading it — which is rather quite wonderful really.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]