Mini Reviews for the Japanese Challenge

I've been suffering from writer's block lately. I just can't seem to write any reviews though I've got quite a number of books I've finished in the wings. Maybe it's because I'm suffering from horrible jet lag. Its been two weeks so this isn't funny anymore. I thought I'd drop two little mini reviews here for books I read last month. These books are part of my list for the Japanese Literature Challenge hosted by  Dolce Bellezza.

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Although I loved, loved many of Murakami's previous novels, I have to say that I was very disappointed in this one. Kafka on the Shore started out quite promisingly with two interesting and distinct story lines that eventually connect. The first thread involves a fifteen-year-old boy who runs away from home and hides out in a library in another town. The second story involves a man who is able to talk to cats. I enjoyed most of the first half but after that it started to go downhill and I found myself losing interest. Somehow the horrible scene with the cats being murdered plus the revelation that Kafka, the young boy, was in love with the person he believed was his long-lost mother, just turned me off. However, if this is your first Murakami, I can completely understand why you'd be very impressed. He is a fabulous and unique writer. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is still my favourite and I highly recommend that one if you have yet to read his books

Real World by Natsuo Kirino
This is a Japanese teenage angst novel that I just didn't get. A strange and aloof teenage boy murders his mother and a group of young teenage girls suddenly become completely fascinated with him. One girl eventually runs away from home and becomes a fugitive alongside him. I found the characters quite unlikeable but I guess that was intentional. I suppose Kirino was trying to portray the 'real world' and how some adolescents are today. It's a chilling premise that I didn't enjoy. I have to read her other novels for the Japanese Literature Challenge so here's hoping I'll like them more than this one.


  1. I have heard mixed reviews about Kafka on the Shore. I don't think it would be for me,especially with the murdered cats - far too upsetting.

  2. I will read this book just as I am nearing the completion of his books-I do not like the idea of cruelty to cats either

  3. I've still got my first Murakami (After Dark) in the Japanese Lit tbr pile. Will get to it soon. I can totally relate to the "reviewer's" block...seem to be having a tough time with them myself lately.

  4. That's too bad that you had some disappointments here. Oh yes, that scene with the cats in Kafka on the Shore was grisly, but for me, that one scene in The Wind Up Bird Chronicle was worse. I felt physically ill while reading it.

  5. I was in the same frame of mind recently and I didn't have jet lag to blame.

  6. I liked Kafka on the Shore, but I seem to be in the minority both here and elsewhere. That's okay.

    Sorry about your jet lag. I know exactly how you feel!

  7. I liked Kafka on the Shore. Not a favourite, but maybe because it was my first, that it floored me.

  8. From what I hear, Out is Kirino's best work.

    I read it for my book club's Japanese book discussion and reviewed it here:


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