Kafka on the Shore left me breathless.
After years of an unnamed but horrific abuse, 15-year-old Kafka Tamura deliberately plans an escape from his father, a man so evil that he steals souls. As Kafka seeks both his fortune and answers to his past in the seemingly random city of Takamatsu, he finds refuge in the stacks of a library, becoming close friends with the assistant and fantasizing that the head librarian is his lost mother.
Though the magic realism of this novel begins right away - and is at times complex and seemingly random - about a quarter of the way into the book the plot and characters burst into focus and harmony. The secondary plot (involving a mentally-damaged man who can talk to cats and is on his own quest) all of a sudden aligns with Kafka's life, and the entire story dramatically rises in a tornado of crazy events and emotions: murder, incest, and oedipal prophecy.
The ending of this story was so beautiful that I couldn't read for a full day afterward from the emotional hangover. I can't wait to read more Murakami.
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