Kafka on the Shore Background

Kafka on the Shore Background

Kafka on the Shore, published in 2002 and translated into English in 2005 by Philip Gabriel, is the 10th novel from Japanese author Haruki Murakami. Like much of Murakami's previous works, it's a surreal mystery with elements of magical realism. Many concepts common to Murakami's work appear here as well, from missing people to classical music, supernatural powers, sexuality, and cats. Most notably, Murakami explores themes of reality, fate, art, and the relation among them.

The main Murakami-ism present in Kafka on the Shore is the split narrative. Every chapter, the story switches between two perspectives. In the odd chapters, the story follows a teenage boy who calls himself Kafka, who is on the run from his father and finds shelter in a library. The even chapters follow Nakata, an old man who, due to an accident from childhood, is very unintelligent but also has the ability to speak with cats.

Despite the recurring qualities, Kafka on the Shore is also a departure of form for Murakami. While most protagonists in Murakami novels tend to be unmotivated or depressed middle-aged men, Kafka's two protagonists are a boy and an eccentric old man.

The novel received critical acclaim, earned a spot on The New York Times 10 Best Books of 2005 list, and won the World Fantasy Award.

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