Today is the great Haruki Murakami’s birthday and while he doesn’t need my or anyone else’s help to broadcast his amazing catalog of books I’m going to use the completely arbitrary occasion to recommend my favorite of his novels.
I’ve read every book he has written and most of his short stories and I feel like the usual recommendation, or at least the one I see the most americans having is Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. It has kind of a long but catchy name, is widely successful, an easy recommendation to fans of science fiction or speculative fiction in general, and has been mentioned by the author himself as his personal favorite of his own work.
That’s a lot of reason to pick it up and it’s a great book that I have unmitigated love for and at some point in my life would also be my choice but is, however, not my favorite.
My favorite has changed more than once. In various times it has been The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle or Norwegian Wood, and while never my very favorite I remain quite enamored by 1Q84 and think about it quite a lot.
My favorite at the moment is Kafka on the Shore.
This book can be befuddling for some. It doesn’t set-up and knock down questions in ways many people would want but I think does so in the best way possible and while by the time Murakami wrote Kafka on the Shore he was already widely successful and known and had proven he could write incredible stories whether they were infused with magic realism or just realism.
It’s here for me where his command was evident and he felt free enough to write about not so much incomplete ideas but ideas not fully revealed in a traditional manner and the confidence of his pen just exudes because he’s leaving a lot to the reader. He either finally felt like we earned his trust or felt like he had earned our enough to go on this ride.
This is not exactly an uncommon choice as a Murakami favorite but for those who only have dipped into one or two of his more represented books and are looking for the next one, Kafka on the Shore is way beyond a solid choice and could possibly become your next favorite book.