Yes, I would recommend it. It may not be everybody's cup of tea as it leaves many things unanswered and puzzling, but I found it utterly captivating and couldn't wait to get back to it each time I had to put it down (if that's the right phrase for an audiobook). Murakami is a challenge in many ways (I've read others of his books) but he's constantly fascinating and engrossing and, lord knows, highly inventive.
I also loved On Such a Full Sea by Chang Rae Lee which is a dystopian novel set in a future Baltimore (called in the book B-Mor). That, too, had fantastic and thought-provoking elements and was equally captivating.
I was delighted to realize that Sean Barrett was reading the Nakata sections as I have been a fan ever since I listened to Bleak House read by him and Teresa Gallagher (a sensational performance by both of what is undoubtedly one of the best books in the English language). Oliver Le Sueur was new to me, but he was terrific.
No, it was much too long for that, I think, and I listen primarily while I'm driving.
Murakami is a wonderful writer and not to be missed by any serious reader.
Cryptic. Dreamy. Adolescent.
Overall, I find the Nakata-storyline to be the most interesting. The storyline about Kafka was good too of course (and somehow feels like the main story to me), just not as interesting.
Both narration-wise and character-wise I really liked Ooshima
Moved as in made me a little queasy, yes. The thing with Johny Walker.
I've heard that Murakami himself said this book is supposed to be read several times to find new connections and metaphors baked into the text. But there are parts of the book which is just really strange, and acknowleged as such by the characters as well with no further explanation.
I wouldn't mind this, but some of these things (such as the rains) just feel kind of cheap. I'm sure they had some intended metaphorical meaning, but I didn't get quite get it.
The narration is really good apart from the names, especially Saeki. Despite the names I really enjoyed the narration quite a lot, the one doing Kafka is especially good.
First off, there's no doubting the amazing imagination of Haruki Murakami. However, he has chapters of absolute and total brilliance and chapters of smug ramblings disguised as deep philosophy and culture.
The brilliant parts - the Nakata character and everything surrounding him and his life. Characters like Johnnie Walker and the Colonel were amazingly constructed and Murakami describes everything in such clear, vivid detail that I could effortlessly imagine everything happening as if I was watching it on a screen. Some of the imagery was so unbelievably revolting that you think "where on earth did Murakami think this stuff up?" but that's exactly how it was supposed to be!
Nakata was absolutely adorable, like a wise Buddha who hasn't the foggiest idea of his own wisdom. It was easy to fall in love with him.
The narrator who did the Nakata chapters was brilliant, he WAS Nakata for me. I think he may be an older gentleman because his Hoshino voice, while uniquely done, portrayed Hoshino as some middle aged Cockney fellow right out of Eastenders, not as the 20-something long-haired trucker that he was supposed to be. A bit weird at first, but you get used to it and can easily forgive it.
However, interspersed between the chapters involving Nakata were the chapters about the 15-year old kid, Kafka and his adventures. This is where the book falls down a bit. Imaginatively created - sure, but there are too many flaws to forgive so easily.
1. The narrator chosen for these chapters has to be the worst narrator I've ever heard. He reads as if he's in a junior high school classroom and Teacher has asked him to read aloud to the class. He feels his reading ability is above the other kids and he reads with an air of superiority and smugness. However, there's no understanding, empathy or emotion whatsoever to his reading. He reads everything in a smug, know-it-all monotone voice. Every character sounds the same. As I'm listening, the only thing I really want to do is smack this narrator hard! The best I can say about him is that he didn't trip over his words.
2. Maybe it's because of the narrator, or it may be because Murakami has totally forgotten what it's like to be a 15-year old boy, but Kafka reminds me more of a young man about 20-21 or so. Way more confident than any 15-year old kid I've ever known. Mostly though, where it really falls down is where the copious amounts of sex/masturbation are involved. Do you know of any 15-year old who happily and confidently talks about masturbation, his superior bedroom skills and describes his, ahem, member, in quite loving and graphic detail? To be honest, I couldn't care less about Kafka and didn't care at all what happened to him, the arrogant so-and-so. That's not good when the story is supposed to be about him and you, as the reader, are actually supposed to care about him.
3. Murakami throws in a lot about philosophy and lectures about classical music. On the surface, it all "sounds" deep but scratch a bit and there's just emptiness. It's as if Murakami read some books and wanted to show off how much he knows about stuff but with the illusion of depth. Lots of knowledge, no real understanding of the human condition involved. It's as if he wants the reader to feel inadequate and stupid.
OK, despite all of this criticism, I still think Kafka on the Shore is a great book. Every chapter not involving Kafka is so brilliantly and imaginatively constructed that they alone make the entire book worth listening to.
This book was intense. It really got me in and had me talking out loud to the characters (and even covering my eyes at one stage - not that that is much help with an audio book). Very few books make me stop doing jobs and sit down and focus on listening; this was one of them.
This novel is hard to quantify but it is up there amongst my " memorable" list. I am familiar with Mr Murakami's work and a few of his contemporaries so the context, the mode of thinking towards the modern world and modern attitudes in Japan are not mysterious, per se, to me. Mind you I did feel reassured about the author's well being when I read his more accessible little book on running. The peculiarly Japanese take on magical realism, if a label helps, does not seem to have the universality of say, Isabel Allende or Franz Kafka or the kindness and humanity we might be more familiar with, but we can "get it" if we listen carefully. Sean Barrett and Mr Le Souef et al do an amazing job with the narration. Really.
The old, cat whisperer character and trans gender hero will live forever in my imagination thanks to the insightful delivery by these voice actors.
In spite of my leanings towards affection for a plot, I have no problems with the strange but wonderful meanderings in this novel. There is no inexorable conclusion. Characters learn and become so we are on a journey too..but it isn't comfortable.
Interestingly I do not feel as though this novel will ever end. Like any existential body of ideas one is never quite sure where it really all began, never certain of where one has been and almost definitely each event has a very ambiguous end. Perhaps there are endless groups of children on a mushroom picking field trip or various American iconic product personages conducting tours around various cities in the world? I am certain there will be no end to the young people looking for answers, old people still searching and people who are kind enough to notice and to participate.
As many before me have acknowledged, Sean Barrett's cat whisperer is of superlative quality and a mainstay of the authentic feel of the translation and a tour de force in characterisation. The truck driver, although a little weak in the context of the novel, is given sufficient substance by the actor to just get us on board.Mr Le Sueur lends a cool counter point to the richness of the other voice and a credible vehicle for the transgender anti hero.
I heart huckabee. No just a tiny reference to another attempt to represent existentialism.
Waiting for Godot? No. That has been used before also. I know. " get this!"
Congratulations again to those who eschew solely commercial ambitions. Although Mr Murakami is popular, particularly in Japan ( but not yet the Nobel prize judges) and somewhat so in other parts, the investment in titles such as this might be risky? But please do more of the challenging, peripheral titles. There are many of us who long for compelling texts to listen to.
I just loved this book. As I've loved every book by Murakami I've read so far. He has a style of writing that is his own. And it suits me perfect.
There are two major ways to tell a story. The first asks "what will happen?". It's typical for thrillers and dramas. Will the hero survive? Will the young lovers get together?
The second asks "what is happening?". Murakami is a master of this technique. He is not interested in moving fast forward, rather in taking a situation and letting the reader slowly understand what the situation is. And Kafka on the Shore is another of his books that follows that recipe.
After reading a lot of his books i have realized that Murakami really believes in the good in people, believes that people are good. Bad people are often just good people in bad situations. And sometimes there aren't any bad people at all.
This is a truly good book, in the same tradition as Fjodor Dostojevskij, Emile Zola or Salman Rushdie, three of my favorite writers.
Two story proceeded parallel in different space and merge at the end. The only complaint is some interesting quest unanswered such as the mass student coma, What is Johnnie Walker and the slimy creature, the hidden village.... However, the story is still anticipating. I really like the narrator, the perform really great especially Oliver Le Sueur. Very enjoyable narration.
When Kafka throw away all his belonging behind in the forest.
This is just great!
You've got to be the world's toughest fifteen-year-old on the world.
I've loved all of Murakami's books (except Norwegian Wood), but hearing this book performed by these superb readers takes the enjoyment factor to another level. Most highly recommended.
The long listing of mundane things makes this book tiresome very quickly. Maybe someone who enjoys minutia would enjoy this book.
After six hours, I didn't like any bit of it.
Sorry, not for me.
After looking for something a bit different to read, I came across Murakami's The Wind Up Bird Chronicles, which I thoroughly enjoyed. In fact, this could be a review for both, because whilst the stories are very different, they both affected me in the same way. The Wind up Bird lead me to Kafka as I hadn't yet had my fill of Murakami's unusual, haunting and intelligent style.
Kafka on the Shore is not brilliant or perfect, and there are many flaws (I think), but despite all this, the story grabbed me from the beginning and didn't let go until the very end.
I liked the characters and found them believable, even though objectively they were all a tad unbelievable. I didn't find the story confusing, despite many confusing elements. Murakami leaves a lot to the reader (listener) to decide. I have my own theory on what it all meant, which works very well for me, but may not be even close to what others believe. That's one of Kafka's many appeals.