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  • Writer's pictureMetin Tiryaki

Kafka On The Shore – Haruki Murakami

It's a stunned book that really makes you think about what you're going to tell when it's over. First of all, the difficulty begins in defining the genre of the book, from the very first moment. A little fantasy, a little science fiction, drama, romantic, whatever you want to call it. But I think we can mostly include it in the "Magical Reality" movement.

Kafka Tamura is a young man, his mother left home with his older sister when he was four years old, is introverted to a level that has almost no relationship with his father, and devoted himself to music and books. At the age of 15, he decides to run away from home. In fact, he runs away from both his father and his father's prophecy while running away from home. According to her father's prophecy, Tamura will kill her father and have sexual intercourse with her mother and older sister. (The fact that the Oedipus complex and sexuality are included too much in the book may be disturbing to some, let me say it from the beginning.) A young man named “Crow” accompanies him throughout the book. In fact, there is no such person as a crow, and he is nothing but his own inner voice (Alter ego). (By the way, a second reference is made to Kafka, since Kafka means crow in Czech.)

Nakata is a lonely and naive man in his 60s, who lost his complete memory, including reading and writing. He talks to cats, rains things from the sky. The book is written with a fiction that finally combines the stories of two different characters. Both go on a journey without knowing what the next step is. Tamura starts working and living in a library. He befriends with Oshima, who also works at the library, and falls in love with the library manager, 50-year-old Ms. Saeki (who is also her 15-year-old self). On Nakata's journey, the young Hoshino, who was a truck driver for him, helps and accompanies him. Eventually, their paths will cross on the island of Shikoku.

As in all of his books, Murakami has also included lots of music. While listening to Tamura Radiohead, Prince, Coltrane, you also experience plenty of classical music (Beethoven, Haydn, Fournier…). There are also playlists on YouTube for the curious. In conclusion, Kafka on the Shore is one of the best books of the 21st century that every book lover should read. The 650-page book contains many anecdotes that need to be read slowly and pondered…

“In short, that's what falling in love is like, Kafka Tamura. You will be the one who feels breathtakingly good and grapples with a deep darkness. You have to endure it with your body and soul.”

“There is only one type of happiness, but unhappiness can come in a thousand shapes and sizes. As Tolstoy said: Happiness is a fairy tale, unhappiness is a story."

“Look, Kafka Tamura, maybe no one in the world desires freedom. They just think they want it. Everything is a utopia. If freedom were to truly fall into their hands, most people would wonder what to do. Keep this in mind. People actually like to have their freedom curtailed.”

“Memories are things that warm one's body from the inside out. But it can also tear your heart apart.”

“Thinking too long is like not thinking at all.”

“What we call destiny, according to its place, is like a sandstorm, constantly changing its direction in a narrow place. And you change your footing to get rid of it. Then the storm changes direction to keep up with you. Once again you change where you press. Again and again, the same thing goes on and on, like an ominous dance with the god of death just before dawn. If you say why, that storm is different from anything that has come from far away. That storm is actually you. So all you can do is surrender and walk through the storm, step by step, with your feet dipped directly into the storm, closing your eyes tightly so that no sand can get in. There is probably neither sun nor moon, nor even direction nor time. There, grains of white sand, sharp enough to shatter bones, dance in the sky. Imagine such a sandstorm.”

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