Kafka on the Shore explores destiny versus free will
Book Review: Must Reads For Youth
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (16+):
When Kafka on the Shore was originally released in Japan, Haruki Murakami’s publisher invited his fans to submit questions for the author. Within days, more than 8,000 responses were received, showcasing how the critically-acclaimed novel Kafka on the Shore provides more questions than answers.
Kafka on the Shore is a metaphysical dual narrative that follows the destinies of two remarkable characters: Kafka Tamura and Satoru Nakata. It is set in Japan in the 2000s – the time in which it was written.
Kafka Tamura is a 15-year-old boy who runs away from home to escape his father and a twisted prophecy. By contrast, Satoru Nakata is an elderly man who can talk to cats, yet lacks the ability to feel or remember anything.
Welcome to my Must Reads For Youth weekly book review. I simply love books, and am excited that The Royal Gazette is partnering with me to help share my reviews of great books. As a young reader, I have found that the most common reason as to why many young people stop reading is because they either do not know what to read or have not found books that they really enjoyed. My aim is to change that. Happy reading!
However, the plot points of Kafka on the Shore stretch farther than detailing the lives of a young runaway and an old man who tracks down his neighbour’s lost cats for a living. These two storylines often occur in parallel worlds, intersecting subtly (often unnoticeable until the very end, and even then, remain unclear) and introducing the reader to a plethora of offbeat and refreshing personalities.
A key theme in Kafka on the Shore is the idea of destiny versus free will. Both characters are being drawn towards fates that they are either fleeing or are unaware of – yet neither can evade their destiny. This leads to many brave, questionable, and sometimes foolish decisions, illustrating the importance of being confident and competent when making choices.
Personally, I found the array of riddles (often without real solutions) very mysterious, as they played to the concepts of identity, reality, and surprisingly, the power of music, inviting my exploration of these concepts.
In Murakami’s works, nothing is 100 per cent certain, so if you’re looking for a book that will challenge your sense of reality, this is a good place to start!
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