Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami

Another masterpiece of the amazing Murakami. The book was published in 2002 and it brings to us the magic realism that Murakami is known for.

Short summary

  We have two main characters, which seems to be the case in most of Murakami’s works. One is the 15 year old Kafka Tamura, and the other one, an old man named Nakata.

  On his 15th birthday, Kafka decides that he should run away from home, which he does. He packs a few things, takes some money from home, and he hits the road. We learn that he lives only with his father. His mother left them with his sister when he was four years old. His father is not the best parent in the world, and that’s what makes Kafka to run away.

  A few weird things happen throughout his journey, and he ends up living in a private library. Here he meets a young boy named Oshima, and Miss Saeki. Even more weird things are happening to him, but I’ll leave that for you to find out.

  Nakata on the other hand, is a completely different story. He had an accident when he was very young. A very strange accident which left him, as he says, stupid and empty. He can’t read, he is old to work, but guess what, Mister Nakata can talk to cats. 

  Like Kafka, he also has a few adventures of his own, when finally, he goes out to find something. He doesn’t know what that is, but he is sure that once he sees it, he’ll know.

  Throughout the book the paths of the two characters are coming closer and closer but they always fail to meet.

This is one of the best works from Murakami. He leaves us with a few questions unanswered, and that is the beauty of it. He makes you believe in all those realities that twist your mind.

If you have never read Murakami, this would be a good place to start. And if you read it, I’m sure you have this piece of art on your reading list.


PS: The photo is by Oneirio, on deviantart.


Siddhartha – Hermann Hesse

First, about the title. The word Siddhartha is made up from two Sanskrit words: siddha (achieved) and artha (what was searched for). So literally it would mean “he who had found meaning”. In the book, Siddhartha is the name of our main character. Siddhartha Gautama was also Buddha’s own name before his renunciation.

This is the ninth book by Hermann Hesse first published in 1992. It was published in the US in 1951, and became influential in the 1960s.

Short summary

  The book follows Siddhartha’s spiritual journey of self-discovery. It takes place in Kapilvastu, Nepal. 

  Siddhartha leaves his home in the hope to gain spiritual illumination. His way of achieving this is becoming an ascetic wandering beggar of the Shramanas. He fasts, meditates, becomes homeless, all to achieve his goal. He is accompanied by his friend, Govinda. 

  On his journey he meets Buddha (referred to as Gotama), but he does not accept his teaching. He thinks that every individual seeks an unique meaning that can not be presented by a teacher. He continues his journey alone, while Govinda starts following Buddha’s teaching. 

Not to spoil the whole journey, I will stop here.

This is a really small book and you can read it one sitting. It’s full of wisdom and will help anyone who is looking for some meaning in their life.

Hesse himself said that he wrote Siddhartha to cure his “sickness with life” by immersing himself in Indian philosophy. The book has two parts, where the second part took longer for Hesse to write. The reason, he said, was that he hadn’t reached or experienced the transcendental state of unity to which Siddhartha aspired. In order to do so, he totally immersed in the sacred teachings of Hindu and Buddhist scriptures.

A movie version, starring Shashi Kapoor, was released in 1972.

S. S.