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
I read Sputnik Sweetheart, and it left me with a lot of questions because some plot elements were left to the reader's imagination. I loved the way he had layered the story within story, within story. Totally enjoyed that. However his books tend to be morose, and full of depressing ideasReplyDelete
Hrishi, you are right. Murakami leaves many unanswered questions which baffle the reader at times. The layers are fine but as they probe deeper, they depress us because while peeling the layers of the plot, we peel the layers off our deepest psyche. Overdose of Mr. Murakami is definitely not advisable.Delete
Thanks for stopping by, Hrishikesh.
Haven't read any of Murakami's work...will pick it up soon. So true when you said that it's difficult not to get emotionally attached with a book :) we do tend to connect to some ways anf means of the characters don't we!ReplyDelete
Oh, tell me about it, Aditi. I almost always get entangled and for many days the stupor still remains.Delete
Thanks for coming by dear Aditi. Love to see you.
I too read Kafka on the Shore and the subjective taste in me really loved the book and would recommend it to people. But I do agree with you that it is definitely not one of those over a cup kind of read... It takes away a lot from you..information is immense and the connections to forklore n myths is always good to read.. Yes sometimes he does tip towards the dark.. but as I have interpreted his style..it is more like a dream (and not always a good one).All that you may not do in reality you may in his book and in the mind of the character. The fact that he leaves the end loose is a little annoying sometimes ... but I think that is his style ..no rights ..wrongs..reality...fantasy...Its there and yet not there. But the journey does leave you enriched and perceptiveReplyDelete
Apoorva, you are right and I am glad to know that you have read the book. Murakami kneads the inner us and leaves us unsettled and morose and inspite of that we are gravitated towards him. I just wonder why.Delete
And, welcome to the Meanderings. Happy to have you here. Take care and stay joyous :)
I've read quite a few of Murakami's books, including Kafka. My favorite has to be "The Wind Up Bird Chronicle" but I also enjoyed "A Wild Sheep Chase" and "A Hard Boiled..." Well, I say "enjoyed" but it's not like how I enjoyed The Song if Ice and Fire series. Murakami's works often leave me with more questions than answers.ReplyDelete
I have just read Kafka and quite curious and eager to read 'The Wind Up . . .' and 'a Wild Sheep Chase.' Which should I read first, you think? And yes, you are right. Murakami forces you to probe within and we are left wondering about ourselves.Delete
Thanks for coming by Lance. Good to see you here.