Sunday, 11 January 2009

3 - 'Kafka on the Shore' by Haruki Murakami

A common theme that comes up in the Facebook groups I frequent is the comparison of favourite books to comfort food; I don't mean junk food ('Twilight', thy name is Big Mac), but food, or books, that you come back to again and again because of their effect on you. Well, Murakami books are definitely one of my favourite literary snacks, and 'Kafka on the Shore' doesn't disappoint.

To explain the plot would make no sense to those who have no experience of Murakami's surreal tales; when you get a man who talks to cats, a magic stone, rains of leeches and mackerel, and Colonel Sanders (I'm not joking), it's hard to summarise plot lines.

What can be explained are some of Murakami's usual themes: characters who don't fit into the 'Salaryman' 9-to-5 life of modern Japan, a preoccupation with literature and music (both classical and popular) over the mass media, a need to find your true self, even if that means going away to find it. Oh, and cats. Murakami likes cats.

If you've never read a Murakami book, 'Norwegian Wood' is probably a better place to start as the lack of talking cats and parallel worlds will make it easier to enjoy the writing. However, for those of you who have previously read works like 'The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle' or 'A Wild Sheep Chase', this is 505 pages of pure comfort food.

Now, where's that grilled eel...