Why should you read “Kafka on the Shore”? – Iseult Gillespie


“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm
that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm
chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death
just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something
that blew in from far away… This storm is you.
Something inside of you.” This quote, from the first chapter of
Haruki Murakami’s “Kafka on the Shore,” captures the teenage
protagonist’s turmoil. Desperate to escape his tyrannical father and the family curse he feels doomed
to repeat, he renames himself Kafka after his
favorite author and runs away from home. But memories of a missing mother, along with dreams that haunt his
waking life, prove more difficult to outrun. Published in Japanese in 2002 and
translated into English three years later, “Kafka on the Shore” is an epic literary
puzzle filled with time travel, hidden histories, and magical underworlds. Readers delight in discovering how the
mind-bending imagery, whimsical characters and eerie
coincidences fit together. Kafka narrates every second chapter, with the rest centering on an old man
named Satoru Nakata. After awakening from a coma he went
into during the Second World War, Nakata loses the ability
to read and write– but gains a mysterious knack for
talking to cats. When he’s asked to tail a missing pet, he’s thrown onto a dangerous
path that runs parallel to Kafka’s. Soon prophecies come true,
portals to different dimensions open up– and fish and leeches begin raining
from the sky. But what ties these two characters
together– and is it a force either one
of them can control? The collision of different worlds is a
common thread in Haruki Murakami’s work. His novels and short stories often forge
fantastic connections between personal experience, supernatural possibilities,
and Japanese history. Born in Kyoto in 1949, Murakami grew up during the post
World War II American occupation of Japan. The shadow of war hung over his life
as it does his fiction; “Kafka on the Shore” features
biological attacks, military ghosts and shady conspiracies. Murakami’s work blurs historical periods and draws from multiple
cultural traditions. References to Western society and
Japanese customs tumble over each other, from literature and fashion
to food and ghost stories. He has a penchant for musical references,
too, especially in “Kafka on the Shore.” As the runaway Kafka wanders the
streets of a strange city, Led Zeppelin and Prince keep him company. Soon, he takes refuge in an exquisite
private library. While he spends his days poring over
old books and contemplating a strange painting and
the library’s mysterious owner, he also befriends the librarian– who introduces him to classical
music like Schubert. This musical sensibility makes Murakami’s
work all the more hypnotic. He frequently bends the line between
reality and a world of dreams, and is considered a master of magic
lurking in the mundane. This is a key feature of magical realism. In contrast to fantasy, magic in this sort of writing rarely
offers a way out of a problem. Instead, it becomes just one more thing
that complicates life. In “Kafka on the Shore,” characters are faced with endless
otherworldly distractions, from a love sick ghost to a flute made
from cat souls. These challenges offer no easy answers. Instead, they leave us marveling
at the resourcefulness of the human spirit to deal with the unexpected. While Kafka often seems suspended
in strangeness, there’s a tenderness and integrity
at the heart of his mission that keeps him moving forward. Gradually he comes
to accept his inner confusion. In the end, his experience
echoes the reader’s: the deeper you go, the more you find.

100 Replies to “Why should you read “Kafka on the Shore”? – Iseult Gillespie”

  1. Love it. This is my favorite Murakami novel by far. I read it when I was living in Olympia, WA in the late 2000's and the power went out during the winter for almost three weeks. I read Dance, Dance, Dance (also wildly good) and this book and without exaggerating I can say that it changed my life. The ending is so good its ridiculous. I'm currently reading IQ84 and so far I love it. So glad to have this man's writing in my life!

  2. I was just thinking about heading off to the book store and I got this as notification. Look’s like I have a new book. So far loving it. 🙂 Also, I always enjoy the animations from TED-Ed! Keep up the great work, TED-Ed Team!

  3. Please do Indian authors and works! There are at least a dozen amazing contemporary authors – Salman Rushdie, Jeet Thayil, Arundhati Roy…

  4. I read Kafka on the Shore back in 2017 and watching this made me have goosebumps every second of the video. If you haven't read any of Haruki Murakami's work, I definitely recommend this.

  5. #InspirationOfBook – #Kafka The man life and his ability think reasoning of life & job & money & human emotions wonderful book that can show connection between the man & reader who reads the book 👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍

  6. The first Murakami I ever read, and it's my favorite so far. Good job with the animation couldn't have been better

  7. This book is one of my favourites!
    I attempted to do a presentation on it using a whiteboard to link names, objects and places and at the end of the class it was coated in ink and surreal to look at. (Try explaining an outsider how Colonel Sanders and Hegel go together in the same story…)
    Theres also a play based on the book and their decisions to have the cats played by humans in cat costumes was….interesting….

  8. Music (especially jazz), disappearing cats, women and creature of all sort, all beautifully crafted by the magic man Murakami. highly recommend all of his books really. forever my favourite writer.

  9. Nice timing, I'm on page 425. And damn It's a rollercoster the whole time, even if HM spends a lot describing things. It's just like the forest Kafka explored.

  10. I finished this book couple of months ago. What I don't like about Kafka is it creates a magical suspense mystery which in the end takes you no where. It almost felt like he was in hurry so finished it anyway.

  11. The western reader treat Murakami as the Eastern Shakespeare but never delve into other Japanese writers. I dare you making a ted video about Osamu Dazai and his nihilistic writings

  12. I don't have a favourable writer ,just have favourable sotry hidden in my hidden thoughts that might explain every thing

  13. Can there be one of these for Gerard Reve’s The Evenings? I’ve just started reading it, no one’s heard of it, but apparently it’s a classic: the reviews on the back cover say it’s up there with The Catcher in the Rye, Beckett, Camus, and Kafka.

  14. One of my favourite books of my favourite author! I have read it several times and each time it felt like the first time. The surreal feeling you get while reading this book, slowly entering the world of characters and letting yourself be engulfed in this mesmerizing story is a priceless experience. I can't recommend it enough.

  15. This was my first book of Murakami. Now I'll soon to finish reading his "Killing Commandatore" and start "Norwegian Wood" afterwards.

  16. I borrowed this book from my cousin but for some reason I forgot about it and its just sitting on my bookshelf…i guess i should definitely read it now

  17. on your recommendation i read this whole novel in a single day, trying to unravel mystery of this book but i am unable to do it.
    it's intriguing ! i am sure i will soon understand the meaning of this book.
    only then I'll be able to thank you ted ed.

  18. So awesome to see Murukami get a TED-ED animation! Still haven't read "Kafka on the Shore," but my favorite is "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles."

  19. I red that book month or like ages? I can't recall, but two thing is sure: 1) it was a strange one 2) I would read more form Murakami, or reread this one. Just for sure.

    Also: there's a point n click adventure game based on Murakami's works – Memoranda . And cannot be unseen the influences; it is really like reading one of his works. Highly recommend, if you a fan of Murakami.

  20. after watching your previous kafka video months ago, i once wish to watch a murakami version, and here it is 😍😍😍 thank you so much

    -from an avid murakami fan

  21. Such beautiful animation . It would be wonderful if someone actually animated the entire novel like this.

    Love H. M. writings
    especially IQ84 .

  22. Wow, i'm glad I find this video by this morning 😍🔥🙏
    Consider it done, i'm going to buy it no doubt 😍🔥🙏

  23. This animation white washes the main character. Now seriously, you should give a warning it's a harsh book, personally I stopped in the middle it was too much for me .

  24. Thank you ted for providing me reasons for everything .
    Can you make one on 'Micro'- by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston.

  25. I remember in book Kafka explained to Oshima than his name means crow 🙂

    by the way, who read this book because RM recommended it?

  26. One of my least favourite books of all time. I genuinely felt robbed of the time and effort I put into reading this book when I came to the end. It isn’t for everyone.

  27. I was reading Kafka on the Shore just now, with a half cat half man cover. Almost at the end now. I didn't know it was famous.

  28. I love the song in this book
    I felt like the ending was quite vague
    I read this 2 years ago
    After watching this video, I think I started appreciating the book more

    I love Harushi Murakami’s writing
    Honestly, I enjoyed Kafka on the shore more than the Norwegian wood

    Thanks Ted ed

  29. “In everybody’s life there’s a point of no return. And in a very few cases, a point where you can’t go forward anymore. And when we reach that point, all we can do is quietly accept the fact. That’s how we survive.”
    ― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

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