[Book Review] Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

kafka on the shore

Warning: Spoilers. The nature of this review is also different from the ones I’ve done before.

**I wrote this part while I was still at page 380, just to see how much difference there’ll be in opinions once I’ve actually completely reading the book.**

Kafka on the Shore is my first Haruki Murakami book and jeez Louise, I’ve never been so confused in my life. There were a lot of unnecessary parts (scenes and descriptions) in this book and whenever I come upon Kafka having sex with Miss Saeki, I can’t help but remember the quote by Anthony Burgess:

“Literature is all, or mostly, about sex.”

Seriously, this book would’ve fared better without the sex scenes. I mean, I’m not the only one who pictures stories as though they’re happening right in front of me, right? Words don’t come to life by just being words, imagination helps. So, yeah, it was disgusting picturing 15-year-old Kafka doing the dirty with 50-something-year-old Miss Saeki. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if Kafka was possessed by the ghosts of Miss Saeki’s past, it doesn’t matter if real 15-year-olds do have sex nowadays (or that they know about it), I don’t like the fact that a teenager who is not of legal age, is fornicating with an adult who is his senior by a few decades. Then, let’s add the fact that said adult may be the teenager’s own mother. Cue to complete and utter disgust. If Kafka actually has an Oedipus complex, I can understand his sexual desire but I don’t believe that he has it. Instead, I believe that he allowed his father’s “curse” to sink into his mind, thus it warped his reality. Kafka did run away from home because he didn’t want to become the person his father prophesied him as.

Also, the part where Sakura gives Kafka a hand job. Bloody hell, I don’t care if she’s just older than him by a few years, she might be his sister. Plus, before she gave him a hand job, she basically declared that she has a boyfriend and does not go around having sex with just anybody. Do hand jobs given by another person not count as sex anymore?

Though, I have to applaud Kafka for leaving as soon as he could which leads to me wishing that he did the same the first time he had sex with Miss Saeki. Ugh. The only part where sex-related events seemed like they fit was in Chapter 12, where the teacher confesses her sins.

On the topic of unnecessary parts, the clothing descriptions are one of them. They say clothes can tell a lot about a person but all I know here is that there are all just brands—most of which I’ve never heard of. Does that mean that all of the characters here are fashion/status-conscious? That it doesn’t matter if they’re rich or not but being dressed in all these brands will somehow elevate their social status? I know that might not be the point at all but still, there’s no need to put the names of brands into the description. Half the time, I wanted to put the book down just so I could Google what they are. This just ruins my imagination process.

Oh, let’s not forget the detail of when Kafta takes his shower in the gym and does “…a good job washing [his] cock, not too many years out of its foreskin, and under [his] arms, balls, and butt.”. Is it needed in the story? Sure, it tells me that Kafka pays attention to tiny details but other than that? Nope. Not even when I know that he’s a hormonal teenager because his desire to masturbate already tells me more than enough.

Moving on, I’m going to be blunt and tell you that at the beginning of the book, I thought I was going to read something completely and utterly breath-taking (the parts where fate is like a small sandstorm? I was expecting more of that beauty). I was more interest in Kafka and the boy named Crow than I was with Nakata. However, once I passed the halfway mark, my interests shifted to Nakata and Hoshino. Though, again, the scene where Hoshino has sex with a prostitute? Not needed. At this point, it was like this book depended on the sex scenes in order to sell and that lowered every remaining alluring aspect in it.

Heck, I couldn’t really locate much life-like emotions in this book. All I felt was confusion and if it was Murakami’s intention to make the reader as confused as his main characters, then job incredibly well done. I repeat, I’ve never been so confused in my life. This book is like a jigsaw puzzle of fragmented memories which have been poorly pieced together in order to make some sense…Perhaps this book did make sense to Murakami, but I just wish he made it more comprehensible for a wider audience. I don’t get why many critics are in love with this book, but then again, perhaps they were on Murakami’s wavelength, perhaps they pretended to love it because Murakami’s famous.

**This is when I’ve read the entire book.**

This, is where I’m going to contradict myself. Remember when I talked about how there’s only one sex scene which seems to fit with the story? Well, there’s one which actually does and that’s when Kafka rapes Sakura. Truthfully, this is the only “necessary” sex scene because through the raping, Kafka unleashes a darker self within him. But, that’s all. I still don’t see the point of the other sex scenes—a build-up to where Kafka rapes Sakura? Maybe, but that doesn’t mean I still approve of them, especially when Miss Saeki turns out to actually be Kafka’s mother.

Nevertheless, the ending really is beautiful—perhaps as much as the beginning. The jumbled mess in the middle was hard to straighten out but once I thought about spirits, ghosts and astral projection, it made sense…kinda.

Also, I sort of understand why the critics enjoyed this book as well, though that doesn’t mean that I like Kafka on the Shore that much. It still remains for me that the unneeded descriptions and all the sex lowered the beautiful aspects of this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Get the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

One thought on “[Book Review] Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

  1. Really Nice Review. I have read it too and I couldn’t agree more. This is one of the best books you could ever read.


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