Very wonderful book! Mystic + Philosophy + unique talent of Haruki Murakami
I’ve read this book recently and now listen audio with great pleasure.
Note: it is not for easy listening (such while you driving or eating..) but I still recommend it for people who like very high quality literature .
The narration was very good and after I got passed the first bit I have to admit I was engrossed. However one of the main reasons it kept me interested was I was waiting for everything to be explained. As far as I could tell that did not happen.
If you are used to reading books that are a little deep then I would recommend it. If you are like myself and like most questions answered clearly by the end of a book then it's probably not for you.
I read science fiction and fantasy, but I also like literary fiction, the classics, the occasional mystery/thriller, and non-fiction.
Haruki Murakami is a fascinating and interesting writer and boy howdy is he preoccupied with his penis. I mean, his protagonist's penis. Penises in general. Every book of his I've read is penispenispenis.
But boy can he write. Kafka on the Shore is "magical realism," which as the old joke goes, is "fantasy when it's not written in English." More seriously, it's one of those books where otherworldly things happen that the reader is asked to simply accept. There is no explanation for how someone can exist simultaneously as an old man and a fifteen-year-old boy in order to be in two places at once, or why conceptual incarnations take the corporeal form of Colonel Sanders, or why Nakata can talk to cats.
Kafka Tamura is a teenager running away from his father's Oedipal prophecy. The voice in his head is a boy named Crow, who tells him he must become "the world's toughest fifteen-year-old." He takes up residence in a library overseen by a gender-bending librarian, encounters a woman who may be his mother and a girl who may be his sister, and screws both of them. It may be a dream. But Murakami describes every encounter in very corporeal detail. Penispenispenis!
Meanwhile, Nakata, an old man who was mentally damaged/traumatized by an event that happened to him at the end of the war but left with the ability to talk to cats, has to find a family's housecat and stop a cat serial killer. This leads to him becoming a fugitive, where he encounters a truck driver who joins him on his quest to find a stone, in a bizarre urban Japanese inversion of your typical fantasy quest.
Nakata's quest and Tamura's are linked, but the links are never clearly defined; indeed, it's not entirely clear how their two character arcs are connected at all, though they may be the same person.
If this review fails to convey much sense of the plot, it's because Murakami's plots are... really hard to describe. He throws a little bit of everything into the story. And lots of penis. But the prose is liquid and lyrical, even in translation, and the story carries you along like a rushing stream, batting you about so you're not quite sure where you are going but you at least have a vague sense that you are going somewhere. And where it dumps you, who can say?
I liked it. But it's weird. Like everything Murakami writes. And seriously, dude, enough with the penises.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
Pollopicu on Goodreads commented on a number of Murakami traits that totally resonated with me. She said that “He’s the kind of writer whose work you think you might not enjoy until you start reading it.” For me this was totally true. There is nothing about his writing, particularly subject-wise, that was attractive to me. I was drawn to this author by the reviews of others that placed him on hallowed ground. She further goes on to say that “the simplicity of his prose is his charm.” Again, her comment is spot on. His writing is so easy to read/listen to that even when things seem to drag on, the drudgery is not laborious.
My first Murakami was 1Q84 and I immediately became hooked. I liked it but only gave it 4 stars and thought it would be a while before I started another offering by this author. I was wrong. A week went by and I started to think about reading another. Another week went by and I was reading Kafka On the Shore. I was not sorry. I enjoyed KOtS even more than 1Q84. Both books were strange to be sure and I’m not sure I even got all there was to get... or, maybe the joke is on us and there really is nothing more to get. But I don’t think so.
After KOtS, I started two other long books by other authors whom I particularly admired. But, even before finishing them, I picked up The Wind-up Bird Chronicle and began to read. Yeah, I can’t get enough of this guy. I really think that I probably should have waited awhile and reread the first two books. I think that maybe, just maybe, Murakami is that kind of gifted author who can be read and then read again on another level. Or, just maybe, what you first see is what you get.
The narration was mind-bogglingly good. Sean Barrett and Oliver Le Sueur were just over the top superlative. Generally, I think that women often do good male voices but not usually do men perform great female voices. Though not listed, there has to be a female narrator in this book.
I read on the Internet that Murakami suggests you revisit the novel a few times in order to 'get it'. I've finished my first 'reading' and am keen to have another go soon. Its like a dream twisiting and turning at times both profound and startling. My favourite part was when the prostitute expounds in mid intercourse the finer points of Hegel's philosophy in such a way that even I understood! Its a great journey with lots of 'take away' nuggets of insight and quotable moments. Enjoy
This story was riveting from start to finish. It is another example of Murakami's ability to tell a taut, gripping, mysterious, and intellectual story without pretentiousness. What I love about Murakami, and this book in particular, is that he asks us to love characters whom we might ordinarily dismiss, simple characters. In this case, we root for a simple old man who can talk to cats and who was struck "dumb" during a childhood accident, an accident that is the central mystery of the book (in this sense, the book reminded me of McEwan's Enduring Love). Whereas in everyday life, he would be dismissed or people would feel frustrated by his slowness, in Murakami's world, this man has a special gift and is honored for it. Murakami asks us to question what it means to be "smart," "dumb," "old," and "young." And even though we almost always find ourselves seeing life through a young, male character's eyes, Murakami's respect, understanding, and love for women pervades this book, as it does his others.
The readers are spectacular, too. If I'm not mistaken, these readers are some of the cast of the His Dark Materials trilogy, including Yoric Byrnison, Will, and Lee Scoresby. The choice of cast makes sense, because this story shares many themes with the trilogy, save religion.
This is a really fresh bit of literature, hard to peg into any particular genre.
I highly recommend it anyone who likes fiction that is whimsical, brainy and a little mystical.
The reader gives an excellent performance of the text. I highly recommend this one!
The quality of this audiobook is superb. Several narrators do different voices and each is perfect. It is truly a joy to listen to. If you are unfamiliar with Murakami, be patient with this book. He weaves his stories very slowly. This one is worth the time though.
3.5 stars. My second Murakami book. While still a good book I rate it under The Wind Up Bird Chronicles which I found had a more engrossing story. Interesting to see some of the same concepts/themes in both books: cats, music, wells, wars, etc.
This book had some very strange moments near the end of the book, a couple of which were a little too much for my taste. I also don't feel satisfied with the resolution (or lack thereof) pertaining to the strange Johnny Walker character.
My main gripe with Murakami's books thus far is always how he ends his books. As things come to a close he tries to tie things up neatly for the central character, but leaves a lot of the more interesting subplots behind. Hard to put a finger on it - I actually would have preferred this book and Wind Up to end on a sour note for the main character instead of this feeling that the book is long enough now, let's patch in a so-so happy ending.
As for the narration, generally a very good job with one annoying major character pronunciation change between two different readers towards the end.
This book is off the wall, but should be in your ear. A sequence of surreal linked events influence the coming of age of a teenage Japanese boy. The language is graceful, and the story strangely compelling. Sean Barrett and Oliver Le Sueur read the story with empathy. I’ll certainly be downloading more works by Haruki Murakami.