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Kafka on the Shore

kafka on the shore haruki murakami

We found a few books in our apartment when we arrived in Tokyo. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami was one of them. I really enjoyed the first half. The second half wasn’t nearly as interesting to me, but it was still good–especially in parts. If you are well read, you will notice some borrowings and inspiration from other authors. Murakami doesn’t hide that fact. Instead, he alludes to his lifted items by referencing those other authors, like Soseki Natsume, within the work itself. It all works out to a very clever book.

Even if you aren’t familiar with the things going on in the subplots, you should find this novel to be enjoyable. I’m currently reading one of Murakami’s other works now, 神の子どもたちはみな踊る (All God’s Children Can Dance), in Japanese. For some reason it is funner to read the work of a Waseda University grad right on the Waseda University campus.

Here is a quote from Kafka on the Shore:

“‘Are the Japanese God and the foreign God relatives, or maybe enemies?’

‘How Should I know?’

‘Listen — God only exists in people’s minds. Especially in Japan, God’s always been a flexible concept. Look at what happened after the war. Douglas MacArthur ordered the divine emperor to quit being God, and he did, making a speech saying that he was just an ordinary person. So after 1946 he wasn’t God anymore. That’s what Japanese gods are like—they can be tweaked and adjusted. Some American chomping on a cheap pipe gives the order and presto change-o—God’s no longer God. A very postmodern kind of thing. If you think God’s there, He is. If you don’t, He isn’t. And if that’s what God’s like, I wouldn’t worry about it.” (p. 375)

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