Dunia Kafka, translated to Indonesian from Kafka on the Shore, is the first novel I have read by Haruki Murakami, and I can definitely say that it won’t be the last. Why the title was translated as Dunia Kafka (Kafka’s World) rather than Kafka di tepi Pantai, I don’t know. Frankly, I think the latter sounds kind of poetic, aside from being a literal translation of the original title. In any case, that’s a small point.
This is the sort of novel that one very rarely sees these days. We used to call this sort of thing “literature”. And it is awfully good to see it again in the dry desert spanning decades of mediocrity and downright tripe. This is more than a story. It’s a vision. It is a complete and authentic invention, an exploration of life itself, of meaning, of spirit, of the elusive, fragile fabric that touches the deepest, most fundamental aspects of the human psyche.
This novel pulls you in like a sliver of light from a doorway ajar. You push the door further, peer into the room, confront the uncertain play of light and shadow, and beyond what can be seen, proven, expressed, you sense the invisible, the labyrinthine world that lies beyond, filled with the perplexing coincidence of love, longing, remorse, rage, mystery, miracle and transcendence. Herein, the gates of heaven and hell are both wide open.
An elusive sort of introduction, I suppose, but offered with an assurance that this singular work of art will not disappoint the reader who loves the experience of what literature is meant to convey.