Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore tells two stories that find their way together: Kafka Tamura, a fifteen-year-old runaway, seeks to either escape or collide with a childhood prophecy and to find the female half of his family, and Mr. Nakata, an older man who suffered a childhood accident that left him with a simple mind and the ability to talk to cats, begins a journey marked by dreamlike encounters and fish raining from the sky. Slowly these stories wind and connect, with just the right amount of absurdities and visits to a vivid memory-powered dreamworld. When Kafka lands a position and a place to stay at an old, private library, he is befriended by the androgynous, philosophical Oshima, and finds himself drawn to the reclusive and elegant head librarian, Miss Saeki, who harbors a tragic love story and secrets painted and sung into delicate chords of the past.
Kafka on the Shore spills over with beautiful sentences, and I found all these lyrical lines especially fitting to the story’s atmosphere, which laps the shore of unreality just as it sings the dissonance of all-too-real painful memories and personal, private destinies. I was completely captured by these characters, each adrift on their own odyssey, in need of another’s tide to pull them in.