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Kafka on the Shore | [Haruki Murakami]

Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the Shore follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at 15, under the shadow of his father's dark prophesy. The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his pleasantly simplified life suddenly turned upside down.
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Audible Editor Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

Kafka on the Shore follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at 15, under the shadow of his father's dark prophesy. The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his pleasantly simplified life suddenly turned upside down. Their parallel odysseys are enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerising dramas. Cats converse with people; fish tumble from the sky; a ghostlike pimp deploys a Hegel-spouting girl of the night; a forest harbours soldiers apparently un-aged since WWII. There is a savage killing, but the identity of both victim and killer is a riddle.

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

What the Critics Say

  • World Fantasy Award, 2006

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (1555 )
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4.5 (862 )
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Vyacheslav Syosset, NY, USA 05-25-06
    Vyacheslav Syosset, NY, USA 05-25-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "must-read one"

    Excellent book plus talented narration makes this recording outstanding. Surely, a must-read one!

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chelsea Garrison 05-18-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    "Philisophical - I think?"

    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.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Volodymyr Mississauga, ON, Canada 05-02-06
    Volodymyr Mississauga, ON, Canada 05-02-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very wonderful book!"

    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 .

    14 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Yamhill, OR, United States 04-20-12
    Robert Yamhill, OR, United States 04-20-12 Member Since 2009

    Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "5 Star Story; 5+ Star Performance"

    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.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MR AJ Moore Magaliessig, Gauteng South Africa 07-30-09
    MR AJ Moore Magaliessig, Gauteng South Africa 07-30-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Just like a dream"

    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

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Alexis Denver, CO 11-15-08
    C. Alexis Denver, CO 11-15-08 Listener Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Riveting story with fantastic readers"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wyonia Perry Hall, MD, USA 10-17-08
    Wyonia Perry Hall, MD, USA 10-17-08 Member Since 2007
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    "Smart, Magical and Well Performed"

    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!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    chris las vegas, NV, United States 08-08-08
    chris las vegas, NV, United States 08-08-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Awesome"

    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.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Josh South Haven, MN, USA 08-03-07
    Josh South Haven, MN, USA 08-03-07 Member Since 2004
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    "Not as good as Wind Up Bird"

    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.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marius Irene, South Africa 10-19-07
    Marius Irene, South Africa 10-19-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "On the shore, off the wall"

    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.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 11-20 of 85 results PREVIOUS1239NEXT
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  • Simon
    Worcester, United Kingdom
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Geoff
    Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
    8/9/10
    Overall
    "Simply Wonderful"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Cat Piggott
    Sussex, UK
    10/1/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Stunning - a Masterpiece in Storytelling"
    If you could sum up Kafka on the Shore in three words, what would they be?

    Playful, multi-genre and elegant.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Kafka on the Shore?

    Satoru Nakata's confrontation with Johnnie Walker and subsequent confusion.


    Which character – as performed by Sean Barrett and Oliver Le Sueur – was your favourite?

    Satoru Nakata - or Hoshino- lovely characterisations.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Origami Reality


    Any additional comments?

    Haruki Murakami. A spirited, playful writer whose stories are like origami, beautiful but exact, simple but mysterious. Many levels of reality simultaneously give you the feeling you can hop from one level to another at will. Which means you can infinitely interpret to your heart's content.
    Kafka on the Shore is a masterpiece.
    He's also multi-genre:
    in one book we have humour, drama, romance, suspense and horror. Like Stephen King in his talent, but much more elegant.

    This is a stunning book. I'm nearing the conclusion. Fortunately, he's written more!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Antti
    Jyväskylä, Finland
    8/1/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Remarkably Good"

    Magically mysterious, mysteriously captivating, ”Kafka on the Shore” was my first Murakami, after which I just had to read/listen for more. I continued to the rather extensive ”1Q84”, which I didn’t get from Audible so I won’t be able to review it, but after that needed a breather. I’m gearing up for the release of the English translation of his latest novel, ”Colorless Tzukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” in a few weeks’ time by readying this review/reflection.

    ”Kafka on the Shore” is such a brilliant novel I couldn’t stop listening. I even had to listen to it in bed at night, which I shouldn't do, since I always fall asleep and spend the next morning finding the place I drifted off. But Murakami’s ability to show the past and present, dreams and phantasmagoria and life and death as if through a prism is of such great talent that it’s a joy throughout. The way he’s able to describe the young adolescent struggle of identity, and sexuality, is remarkably alive, as well as the simple-seeming yet infinitely rewarding life of Nakata.

    I think I’ll need to revisit this sooner rather than later, since I just have to see whether it has that magnetic pull in it, now that it’s familiar ground. And then I think I’ll have to use my credits to get some more Murakami after ”Tzukuru Tazaki”.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Wendy
    Glos, United Kingdom
    2/26/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Breathtaking adult fairy tale"

    I am so envious of you to be beginning this book! You now have hours of joy listening to it. It is beautifully written and narrated. I would put this book under the heading of adult fairy tale. Haruki Murakami is an amazing author. If you love this as I have, try IQ84 next.......happy listening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bookworm
    Dorset, United Kingdom
    1/23/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Entrancing, beguiling narration"
    What made the experience of listening to Kafka on the Shore the most enjoyable?

    The two narrators were fantastic. They really brought the novel, and its characters, to life.


    What other book might you compare Kafka on the Shore to, and why?

    Probably only another Murakami book.


    What about Sean Barrett and Oliver Le Sueur ’s performance did you like?

    Utterly fantastic. One of the best audio books I've listened to, because of the performances. The contrast in the two voices matched the two alternating narratives in the novel so well. Sean Barrett's Mr Nakata will stay with me for a long time. He totally became Mr Nakata in my head.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Not really, but I was entranced & didn't want to stop listening.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Leya
    London, United Kingdom
    7/29/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Marmite"

    This is the first novel by Murakami that I have experienced, and there is no doubting Murakami's talent as a narrator but after some 200 pages one begins to ask oneself where his skills have led him and us. I suppose one way of reading this sort of magical realist text is to assume that the happenings it describes are in someone's mind and not necessarily part of any human history, actual or imagined. Or one might think of each chapter as a sort of thought experiment dealing with such topics as abandonment, incest, murder, the life of cats etc. Certainly, Murakami's philosophical moments are fun...

    But somehow the whole does not add up, especially as the ending is rather weak hence the 3 stars. I would be wary of recommending this book, as I think that his style is probably an acquired taste - but I will definitely try out another of his novels.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Carol
    Ely, United Kingdom
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "another success"

    once again I have enjoyed another Murakami book. he always gives a different perspective. the boy who runs away looking for his mother, the separate plots of the other characters means that I could not switch it off. the search for the lost cats resembles the hunt for the Wind Up Bird in the book of that name.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • chrisalgar
    8/11/12
    Overall
    "Totally addictive"

    I'm not into fantasy and resisted the idea of Murukami's strange alternative worlds for a long time, but the audiobooks of his novels and especially Kafka have totally hooked me. The narration is wonderful and the characters especially Nakata are so engaging that you suspend all disbelief. Moreover, it's a great introduction to other Japanese literature - I'm now going to read some of the Japanese classics that are mentioned in Kafka - and listen to the music that is mentioned. I've now listened through three times and keep getting more out of it - and yes, it is also so soothing that it works a treat for 3 am wakefulness.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Matthew
    Goudhurst, United Kingdom
    2/9/12
    Overall
    "Deep and full of questions"

    I discovered Murakami through 1Q84, which although interesting, I found ultimately annoying as there were too many questions unanswered at the end. This book also leaves many questions, but they're the sort that couldn't be answered easily. A mix of the supernatural and the real, with complex characters and a plot that draws you in, a deeply satisfying book. The two main narrators are excellent and the characterisation is perfect. If there's one little annoyance it is that the two narrators pronounce names differently, but you get used to it quickly. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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