Kafka On the Shore, a 2005 novel from Japanese fiction author Haruki Murakami, is almost too esoteric to be enjoyable. Following the path of a 15-year-old runaway, the narrative is first-person and initially enjoyable. Murakami's writing style is rich with sensual imagery and leaves no emotions untouched, which hooks the reader into wanting to find out what will happen next. Alongside the story of a runaway, Murakami begins to narrate the life of an elderly man who, due to a strange accident when he was young, is mentally challenged and able to communicate with cats. Their worlds seem disparate until fate appears to draw their adventures closer to each other, exciting the reader into thinking there will be a confrontation. Unfortunately, in this novel Murakami lets his love for multiple narratives get the better of him.
In every chapter, something new and strange occurs that suggests spirits, magic, or something otherworldly is going on in and around the characters. The suspense is exciting, until Murakami goes off the deep end and adds in more esoteric spiritual experiences in the very end. Rather than explaining all the strange occurences up until this point, Murakami makes his storyline more muddied, confusing, and transcendentally bizarre. Nothing is wrapped up, explained, concluded, or solved. I finished this book severely disappointed. If you are the type of reader who enjoys stories that wrap up nicely, I strongly recommend novels by Louis Sachar or Carl Hiassen instead.