Kafka on The Shore – book review

Book in Novels
Sunday, December 28, 2014 Review by Fabrizio Giulimondi
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Kafka on The Shore – book review
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“The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory…… The only thing that distinguishes one day from the next is tire weather. If the weather was the same I couldn’t tell one day from another. Yesterday, today, tomorrow… They’d all blur into one. Like an anchorless ship, time floats aimlessly across the broad see.”

Talking about Japanese literature is not easy, much less about the work of a genius such as Haruki Murakami (father, along with the Latin – American Gabriel Garcia Marquez, of “magic realism”), who, with his novel “Kafka on the shore” (Einaudi Super ET, 2002), reaches levels of intricate, intriguing and ineffable beauty.
“Kafka on the shore” unsettles and charms the reader with its content, its stile and the very language structure. There is no way of approaching this work – just like every other efforts from Murakami – other than using the same approaching technique art historians use in order to enjoy a cubist, surrealist or abstract canvas, where vanishing points, perspective view, and the focal point of the figurative representation are completely twisted in relation to classic pictorial conception, and where the representation of the human figure is deconstructed and torn apart from reality.

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In much the same fashion, the reader must move amongst the pages of “Kafka on the shore”.
Magic, mystery, supernatural, dreamy and fable – like implications, the absurd, the extravagant, they’re all part of reality, they are one with it. There is no separation, no cut, between visible and intangible world, between space and sense of space, between time and its own flowing, past, present and future, and the lack thereof. A unique universe were nothing is clear, you cannot find certainties inside answers and everything is just an hypothesis, wrapped in a layer of soot that hides every detail, every reality, making them blurred, incomprehensible and impalpable.
The romantic harmony and the delicate poetry of a moment are suddenly shaken by flashes of cannibalistic violence and incestuous erotic obscenity, a staple of Nippon literature, rich Asian cinematography and comics art from the “Lotus flowers country”, as taught to us by Hayao Miyazaki’s animation films.

Depictions of nature are sometimes expressionist and sometimes impressionist, and are overlapped by introspective stories from each character. Every representation of the physical aspect of a human being or an animal is merely an excuse to enter deeply inside its inner world and its essence. Physicality and spirituality, one is yin, the other is yang. Each element is significant and insignificant at the same time, wrapped in a pantheist and shintoist sacredness.
Narration is continually interpolated with references to Greek and Roman literature or Anglo-Saxon and Russian contemporary times. Edipus, King of Sofocle is the leitmotiv, but we can also find the research of man typical of Kafka and the presence of Edgar Allan Poe, because Kafka means crow in Czech language, just like “The Boy called Crow”, alias of main character Tamura Kafka, The Raven indeed.

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“Kafka on the Shore” is the masterpiece title, but also a song which acts as a soundtrack for the book, and also a painting in which the characters try to reflect and understand themselves, with no success.
Sartre said that a word can have many meanings, recall many images, and unleash many emotions. “Kafka on the Shore” isn’t just a work of literature, but is also music and painting and, therefore, a magmatic, whirling and uncontrollable multitude of feelings, emotions, and sensations.

“There are lots of other sounds that take its place–the chirping of birds, the cries of all sorts of insects, the gurgle of the brook, the rustling of leaves. Rain falls, something scrambles across the cabin roof, and sometimes I hear indescribable sounds I can’t explain.”

By Fabrizio Giulimondi

I highly recommend you read this great book… Rated: — [rating=5]


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