There was a time back in 2015 when I decided to buy every Haruki Murakami book I could get my hands on. This book was included in that book haul. There was no doubt in my mind that it was good because of the high ratings it had online. To my surprise however, I didn’t understand this book.
Comprising two distinct but interrelated plots, the narrative runs back and forth between both plots, taking up each plotline in alternating chapters.
The odd chapters tell the 15-year-old Kafka’s story as he runs away from his father’s house to escape an Oedipal curse and to embark upon a quest to find his mother and sister. After a series of adventures, he finds shelter in a quiet, private library inTakamatsu, run by the distant and aloof Miss Saeki and the intelligent and more welcoming Oshima. There he spends his days reading the unabridged Richard Francis Burton translation of One Thousand and One Nights and the collected works of Natsume Sōseki until the police begin inquiring after him in connection with a brutal murder.
The even chapters tell Nakata’s story. Due to his uncanny abilities, he has found part-time work in his old age as a finder of lost cats (notably, Murakami’s earlier work The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle also involves searching for a lost cat). The case of one particular lost cat puts him on a path that ultimately takes him far away from his home, ending up on the road for the first time in his life. He befriends a truck driver named Hoshino, who takes him on as a passenger in his truck and soon becomes very attached to the old man. – Wikipedia
There were two stories being told and I just had a difficult time connecting the two. Sometimes it felt like I already understood what was happening but then I read a couple of more pages and then I’d be lost again. It had a lot of themes going for it. There was romance, mystery, sexuality and a bit of the unknown. It was a lot for me to handle and I couldn’t really wrap my head around it.
Overall, it was an weird first read and I’m wondering if a reading it a second time would give me a better grasp of it. Even if, I had a hard time understanding the whole story, I had a fun time taking down a lot of quote-worthy lines from it.
“Why does loving someone mean you have to hurt them just as much? I mean, if that’s the way it goes, what’s the point of loving someone? Why the hell does it have to be like that?”
“The most dangerous creature here would be me. So maybe I’m just scared of my own shadow.”
“The process of writing was important. Even though the finished product is completely meaningless.” -Maybe this can relate to what happened with me and this book. It doesn’t matter if I understand the story, what matters is I took time to read a book.
“Anyone who falls in love is searching for the missing pieces of themselves. So anyone who’s in love gets sad when they think of their lover. It’s like stepping back inside a room you have fond memories of, one you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s just a natural feeling.”
“Asking a question is embarrassing for a moment, but not asking questions is embarrassing for a lifetime.”
“You can’t look to far ahead. Do that and you’ll lose sight of what you’re doing and stumble. I’m not saying you should focus solely on details right in front of you, mind you. You’ve got to look ahead a bit or else you’ll bump into something. You’ve got to follow the proper order and at the same time keep an eye out for what’s ahead. That’s critical, no matter what you’re doing.”
“Closing your eyes isn’t going to change anything. Nothings going to disappear just because you can’t see what’s going in. In fact, things will even be worse the next time you open your eyes. That’s the kind of world we live in.”
Lastly, I really like this concept that I read. Wouldn’t it be interesting to think that we have an other half in this world?
“According to Aristophanes in Plato’s Symposium, in the ancient world of myth there were three types of people. In ancient times people weren’t just male or female, but one of three types: male/male, male/female, or female/female. In other words, each person was made out of the components of two people. Everyone was happy with this arrangement and never really gave it much thought. But then God took a knife and cut everybody in half, right down the middle. So after that the world was divided just into male and female, the upshot being that people spend their time running around trying to locate their missing other half.”
Have you read this book? I’d love for you to tell me what you think about it and if you understood it! 🙂