Haruki Murakami is the David Lynch of literature; everything doesn’t always make sense, but it's so compelling you can't stop listening or trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. Such is the case with Murakami's mind-bending Kafka on the Shore, which follows the lives of 15-year-old Kafka and an old man named Nakata, who might be aspects of the same person...or maybe not. What we do know is that Kafka runs away from home to find his lost mother and sister and winds up living in a library in the seaside town of Takamatsu, where he spends his days reading literature. Then he's suspected of being involved in a murder. In alternating chapters, we also hear the story of Nakata, who makes a living as a "cat whisperer," searching for lost pets. He embarks on a road trip searching for a particularly hard to find cat, traveling far away from his home for the first time, and the narrative suggests he's fated to meet Kafka. But does he? Oh, and there's also truly bizarre appearances by Johnnie Walker and Colonel Sanders.
Oliver Le Sueur as Kafka and Sean Barrett as Nakata both give hypnotic readings of the main and supporting characters. Le Sueur performs double duty for Kafka and the teen's inner voice, Crow, reading with such gravitas that you might find yourself leaning forward a bit with expectancy for the next line of dialogue or intricate detail. Barrett's deep, warm voice is perfectly grandfatherly as Nakata, whose uncertain destination and deep wonder at the world he has never seen is the lynchpin of the novel. Barrett's voice is a national treasure in Britain – having voiced Shakespeare, Dickens, and Beckett – and you'll wish he narrated just about every book once you hear how he commits to Nakata.
As Kafka prepares to leave home, his alter ego tells the boy that he's about to enter a metaphysical and symbolic storm. "Once the storm is over you won't remember how you made it through – how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure if the storm is over, but one thing is certain – when you come out of the storm you won't be the same person who walked in." That can also be said of any listener who chooses to explore Murakami's beautiful, enigmatic world. Collin Kelley
Murakami's new novel is at once a classic tale of quest, but it is also a bold exploration of mythic and contemporary taboos, of patricide, of mother-love, of sister-love. Above all it is an entertainment of a very high order.
©2005 Haruki Murakami; (P)2005 Naxos Audiobooks
"I've never read a novel that I found so compelling because of its narrative inventiveness and love of storytelling....Great entertainment." (Guardian)
"An insistently metaphysical mind-bender." (The New Yorker)
"Daringly original and compulsively readable." (The Washington Post's Book World)
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
"Great Production of a Fascinating Story."
The reasons I bought this title was that it popped up on the screen while I was searching for one of Franz Kafka's books. I count myself very lucky that I stumbled upon it.
It tells the story of a 15 year old boy who runs away from home. Although there is endless scope in what could lie in front of him the book mainly deals with the complicated past of the boy and those around him. I found the story fascinating, compelling, surreal and endlessly enjoyable.
The production seems perfect to me. Even though I am listening to the voice of an adult his tone and pace match the writers style to convince me; at every corner, that it is the story of a 15 year old boy. Yes a 15 year old boy without much childhood left, thrown into a strange world of older people and there difficult pasts, but a 15 year old none-the-less. Indeed, the toughest 15 year old in the world.
"Murakami at his best"
Unmissable for any Murakami fan, beautifully read, it is a must have. It is the only one where I feel the narration does the book justice.
"surreal as ever"
I find Murakami a bit hit and miss sometimes captivating and sometimes a little dull. This novel has elements of both but is as ever worth the work to get through. Great story and characters that draw you into their world and make you want to see it through.
Kafka on the Shore is a book of Joy, Ease and Lightness. It is deep, meaningful, witty and intelligent. Above all, the narrators are simply wonderful. The voices are hypnotic and tender, they are clear and concise. Kafka on the Shore is an unforgetable piece of storytelling - an audiobook of the highest quality.
"My first Murakami"
Having never read any of the Murakami oeuvre, I decided to go for an audiobook and what a pleasant surprise! The narration is excellent. Indeed, it made me then go and purchase 'hard copy' A Wild Sheep Chase... with the phenomenon of hearing the Kafka On The Shore narration in this novel. Both the audiobook and the novel are superb.
"The Best of Murakami?"
If you know the work of Haruki Murakami and have not yet tried ?Kafka on the Shore? then you are in for a real treat ? better even more enjoyable than 'Norwegian Wood' in my view. If you are not familiar with Murakami?s work then you are in for an even bigger treat ? once you have worked your way carefully through the first chapter the narrative starts to fly and will capture you as it did me. This strong and unique vein of modern Japanese writing is one of the best discoveries that I have made in the last few years and has enriched my reading beyond measure.
"Not my cup of tea"
A story with mystical themes, with two stories being told alongside each other in alternating chapters. I found the story of the 15 year old tedious, he didn't feel like a teenager. This is the first of this author I've read and I don't think it's for me. I did read that it makes more sense if you've read Norwegian Wood and other novels by the author. Sadly I'm glad it's over.
"My first Murakami (but not my last)"
I've not read the print version of this edition which is probably just as well as I listen on my commute and driving and reading are not recommended.
I found this story to be magical in it's subject, the way it drew me in to know what was happening, the way things, events, coincidences were left unexplained. I found the idea of cats that talk to be lovely and the way the death of the father engineered to be so neat (but how???) (well never mind that.... it served the purpose).
It's difficult to say which character was my favourite, when a particular character was speaking that was my favourite as I was intimately bound up in the story and the progression of the narrative, however on balance I think Mr Nakata to be enchanting but that's probably more a result of his cat communication. Even the subsidiary characters are there for a good reason, all of them with wisdom to dispense.
I couldn't manage all of this in one sitting. It's a dense book with multiwoven strands that needs thinking about afterwards (and three weeks later I'm still thinking about it).
This was my first Murakami, I think it was so well written and had such an effect on me that I want to save future ones for when I have time to really listen, concentrate, analyse and just plain think about the book. Murakami seems to be, from this one exposure, a sumptuous feast of a writer that needs multiple visits to the table.
"Surreal and fascinating"
I loved this book. It's my first by this author and I will definitely look for more titles by him. The storyline was maintained, with some pauses and roundabouts along the way but they only added to the mystery. This might be called a psychological drama with science fiction/fantasy overtones, set in the real and gritty world of modern Japan, with a seasoning of old folk tales and a slight touch of mysticism. Allow yourself to go with the flow and enjoy to the end.
Again, the reader was spectacular - all accents and characters were well-defined and added immensely to my enjoyment.
My first audiobook ever! Really recommend Audible app. The first book you get free and then you can continue listening to your fav books by paying around £8-9per a book. The quality of the recording is excellent!
So, Kafka on the shore... Amazing writing, or I'd add translation. Mysterious characters, true love and bizarre events are blended together and you get a wonderful book to read (or listen) during the summer. #HarukiMurakamu# I'd thank people who actually were reading the story, it was considerably well paced with certain intonation and pauses. Great job!
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