No. I never really got round to telling that I had finished this book. It happened weeks back, (even before The Good Doctor) and I've been putting off writing about it, because frankly, I'm still figuring out what it was.
This was my first Murakami. Rather than say that it was a good book, I would say it gave me a good feeling, like something born out of working hard. I have been reading up on what other people thought of the book (it's one of those times, when I really need to know if I know right), and its still vague. So I have my own interpretation, and it still needs to be worked upon, as there are facts that don't add up. Its like those 1000-piece puzzles of a landscape where even after you find the corner pieces, your work is about as hard as not starting at all. Right now, my understanding involves something akin to Hermione's Time-Turner, wormholes and Inception's limbo.
In terms of the writing, it was so liquid that despite that excessive abstractness, the book almost was unputdownable. Before I knew it, I was turning another page to some more weirdness. I guess some of the credit is also due to the brilliant translation of Philip Gabriel. The work thrives on details and metaphors; in fact the latter is perhaps one of the reasons I found the book to touch me so intimately. Amidst the incoherence, there are traces of things I feel and have seen but never expressed in words, for the reason that those 'things' are barely more than sensations, they are very, very intangible and buried very, very deep inside.
The one thing that kept the book afloat for me were the characters, even the outlandish ones like Johnny Walker and Colonel Sanders. Hoshino and Sakura are perhaps the anchor of the story, as all other characters were dabbling pretty much in the subconsciousness (or whatever). I loved the character of Miss Saeki ( I especially loved her dressing sense) and even better was Oshima (his dressing sense was pretty awesome too). I liked Nakata for the only reason that he could talk to and respected cats; besides that I really don't see how or why Hoshino would put up with him. Maybe the grandfatherly touch made things easier for Hoshino, who himself was a pleasure to read about (especially him and the Archduke Trio). Kafka himself, being the protagonist, got the better of me. It was as if I was being offered a piece of his brain, and I am panicking because I don't know how to unravel it. While most other characters simply put forth their actions in an apparent attempt at you understanding their motivations, Kafka Tamura also put forth his reasons. It was difficult.
There are some excellent quotes strewn across the book (its the first time my book has become so dog-eared).
"Anyone who falls in love is searching for the missing pieces of themselves. So anyone who's in love gets sad when they think of their lover. Its like stepping back inside a room you have fond memories of, one you haven't seen in a long time."
And this one.
'"People are by and large a product of where they were born and raised. How you think and feel's always linked to the lie of the land, the temperature. The prevailing winds, even."
Murakami himself has suggested reading the book multiple times in order to get a hang of it all. While that is true of all books and movies, I think Kafka requires far more turns than the usual.