K Kafka on the Shore | Skillshare Projects

Tammy Ann Tan

Illustrator & Lettering Artist



K Kafka on the Shore

I've selected to work on the letter 'K' for Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore. 


Murakami weaves a haunting narrative in Kafka on the Shore, only faintly tethered in reality. The protagonist, a 15 year old boy named Tamura (who choses to go by Kafka), is determined to escape the fate prescribed for him. The Oedipal reference flanks the narrative the whole way, winding with other literary, historical, mythological, and contemporary references, from Japanese myths to the spirit of Johnnie Walker. His story runs parallel with that of an seemingly simple, illiterate old man named Nakata, who has an unquestioning acceptance of his ties with the supernatural. 

Woven into the narrative is a the protagonist's questioning of love, family, attachment, and home, and act of sex is a chilling deconstruction of self, memory, and time. The novel works to distort sense of time and self for both the reader and the characters in the novel, and weaves myth, urban reality, and fantasy into a surreal experience. 


Here is an abridged version of the imagery/symbolism I picked out.

  • Labyrinth, stone sculpture, cyclic search
  • Blood red, crow
  • Foliage, mushrooms
  • Sand storms, fish, leeches, blood falling from sky
  • Moon, sea, imagery described in painting
  • Chosen name, given name, coincidence of "Kafka"
  • The song "Kafka on the Shore" as a LP record
  • Two sides of record, B side instrumental
  • Spirit figures that travel through dimensions
  • Relationship between Kafka and the spirit of Miss Saeki at fifteen
  • The doubling effect/opposites




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