This year began with me reading a brand new author - the much acclaimed Haruki Murakami (whose name somehow always reminds me of the word, 'harami') Well, I have seen different quotes of his adorning different friends' Facebook walls and when an online book-club that I am a part of, decided to read Murakami for the month of January, I was filled with glee. I decided to pick, 'Kafka on the Shore' on a whim because of the name Kafka. Please don't think that I'm a fan of that metamorphosis Kafka! In fact, I hated that book - Metamorphosis! It is considered as a great piece of art and art is always something subjective and that subjectivity made me dislike that book! But a Japanese author dabbling with a Western writer's name in his Japanese novel's title made the book intriguing. And yes, as you guessed the book is definitely not a sunny read which one can savour with a cuppa tea and some muffins! Far from that, the book compels you to give it your complete attention and time and in doing so, it pulls you into the vortex of the dark aspects of your mind which you usually don't want to dig in normal times.
Murakami fashions his story after the famed Oedipus myth and leads the reader into various layers of the protagonists' minds. There are various allusions to many famous works and writers which point out to the different interests and sympathies of the writer. That he is fascinated and enthralled by many Western philosophers and music is no doubt and after reading the novel, one feels enriched by the information that we gain out of the book. Information on one hand and dissection of the self on the other is what this book did to me. It is quite impossible for me to maintain an emotional distance while engaging with the book because it is not possible to get into the skin of the different characters without drawing similar insights from our lives and the lives of those we know. One caution which I should use is being able to distance myself from the work of art. I guess that's a great lesson which time alone can teach me!
After completing 'Kafka,' I also dabbled with Murakami's collection of short stories titled, 'Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.' It did not impress me much.
Most of the stories from the collection are quite abrupt and abstract. Being used to reading delightful short stories with equally delightful characters, Murakami forces me to let go of my previous experience of reading short stories and leads me into another reality which left me a bit disoriented. Metaphors and words are the characters of some of the stories and often they leave me heavy and tired. The pleasure that one associates with short stories is not present in Murakami's short stories instead each story leaves the reader distraught and groping for meaning and sense. Well, as I mentioned earlier, art is subjective and my conclusions can be subjective as well. I would very much welcome a debate or argument on the topic of Murakami's short stories.
So far, so good. Have you read Murakami? If yes, please tell me your thoughts on him and if no, I'd say, give it a try and see!
Image 1: Internet
Image 2: Internet