Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kafka on the Shore

Now and then you stumble over a book with a cover that makes you convinced this is a book you'll devour and love. The book I'm going to write a few words about, Kafka on the Shore, is such a book. For me. A book of many good thoughts one might say.

Before I leisurely browsed through the bookstore that day - with a book discount coupon that nearly burnt a hole in my pocket, I wouldn't dream of wasting it... - I had barely heard of the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. But when I saw this book with a green eyed black cat on the front cover I knew it was for me. And reading the back cover made me all the more certain. A budding brick novel that involves a tracker of lost cats, cats that converse with people, fish that tumble from the sky, a forest that harbours men that haven't aged in 60 years and a violent killing that's a riddle - that sounds almost too good to be true!

But as it turned out it wasn't. It was very true and captivating from the first page. I loved the way the story, always an easy read but still eloquently written, went back and forth, to and from, drama, comedy, thriller, horror, philosophy, love, fantasy, reality and then some. It's an elevating, suggestive, immensely entertaining, horrific, heartbreaking, hopeful, bewitching, ingeniously told tale.

As much as I loved reading this unusual and marvelously told narrative, there were also two more or less minor flaws in the book I'd like to whinge a bit about. One is the way Murakami in detail decribes various cats' colours, some non-existing colours as far as genetics go. And I don't get the impression these descriptions are meant to be imaginary colours. Then why even make a fuss with these details when one obviously can't be bothered to check facts...

The second one is the, for me, chopped and simplified ending. To have been on such a venturous literary journey and then *puff* the end, the main character's life is back to normal. The story would so have benefitted from a more subtle and elusive ending.

But, nevertheless, minor flaws or not, a brilliantly woven magical novel about what is, what could have been, a young man's battle against prophecies and an old man's battle against time. And much much more. Do read.


Wendy said...

So glad you enjoyed this one, Pia. Murakami is one of all time favourite writers. His novel Norwegian Wood is perhaps my favourite though I adored the utterly bizarre Wind Up Bird Chronicles.

He has an autobiography out just now and it's on my Christmas list. Hope Santa thinks I've been good this year. :)

Pia K said...

He is now one of mine too, Wendy:) The Wind Up Bird Chronicles is in a pack of books soon to arrive in the mail and whatever other book of his I can find is on my wishlist. Incidently I browsed through the Swedish translation in the bookstore and I must say they didn't seem half as good as the English version, so I'll stick to that.

I'm sure you'll get a nice gift from Santa this year, let me know what you think of the autobiography...:)

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