|First Edition (Japanese): Wikipedia|
I had no idea what Kafka on the Shore was about when I decided to start it, neglecting to read even the back of the book. And I believe entering into this story with as little background as possible is ideal. It allows you to be receptive and make your own discoveries as the book develops. And it is the book that has won me over to Murakami.
Ostensibly, it's about people standing apart from society, traveling towards one another. They alternate chapters on a measured drift together. And the fantastical elements of the world they inhabit are possessed of a naturalness, the feeling that they emanate from the story itself. Talking cats, entrance stones, magical gateways: for the reader, none of these images are obtrusive or extraneous. They are symbols that amass to add to a total meaning.
And I love these characters. Their story is told in a manner that acknowledges the story of any story, the story of any life, the story of time and the world. Did I exceed my 'story' quota? No matter. Loneliness, purity, dreams, music, imperfection, beauty, silence. I am forever happy to have read this.