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Kafka on the Shore Audiobook

Kafka on the Shore

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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 (1774 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Pamela J United States 04-03-13
    Pamela J United States 04-03-13 Member Since 2016

    Sure, I'd love to hear your story....

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This book intends is to make us uncomfortable"

    This long, winding book tackles so many uncomfortable topics in such a mystical way it is sometimes like you're reading an x-rated nursery rhyme. You squirm your way through some difficult concepts that the author manages by not quite telling you whether you're dealing with reality, dream, or divinity. But each and every character is relatable and empathetic and as we move from one character to the other I found myself longing to hurry to get back, then melting into the new character only to be snapped back again.

    My only real criticism is the British narration that makes some characters sound like they're from Dickens, not Murakami. Even this is not enough of a distraction to prevent enjoying this incredible, but slightly mind-boggling book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jody airdrie, AB, Canada 03-21-13
    Jody airdrie, AB, Canada 03-21-13
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    "It wasn't what I was expecting"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Probably no. It was wierd but not bad, just wierd.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Haruki Murakami? Why or why not?

    I don't know. There was alot of unimportant information that did nothing to enhance the book.


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

    The old guy, Nacamura something.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    I can't be to negtive about the book it just wasn't my cup of tea and I can't really say anything to bad since this is someones hard work. Alot of wierd stuff went on in the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Travelling Pillsbury 03-18-13 Member Since 2009
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    "50 shades of Oedipus"

    Thank you Barry, Grace and James for your insights. I will add this book is not for the rest of our Audible colleagues if their literary predilections do not include:
    a) cats being captured, drugged and graphically murdered;
    b) elements of Sophocles' Oedipus trotted out in a sophomoric ploy to graft a motif onto a teenage runaway tale;
    c) writers like Murakami when they say things like "what I'd like to be is a unique writer who's different from everybody else" and "the key to understanding the novel lies in reading it multiple times."
    Really? I mean really?
    The audio version comes in 3 parts, and I stopped for good early into the third, out of respect for how little time we have on this earth, and how badly in need of a much ballsier editor this "unique" writer's work is. The narrative is a hot mess, and Murakami knows it, but wishes to continue the ruse, given his existing reputation. Interviews with him reveal he may believe himself to be a medium or channel. Tut tut.
    Story aside, performance kudos to Sean Barrett whose Nakata & Hoshino voices alone were a welcome break from the book's meandering miasma.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maggie McMeekin Arlington Heights, IL, US 02-28-13
    Maggie McMeekin Arlington Heights, IL, US 02-28-13 Member Since 2012

    I am a 27 year old nurse pursuing a nurse practitioner degree. My favorite book genres are: fantasy, science fiction, medicine and sociology

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    "I love Murakami"
    Any additional comments?

    Well, I have yet to listen/read any Murakami title and NOT love it.

    Kafka on the Shore weaves together mythology, Jungian archetypes, the paranormal and reality, creating a surreal world that is much like ours, and yet very different as well.

    I feel as though I've gone through the looking glass, and emerged fascinated, in love with the bizarre ways things operate, the strange ways things are symbolic, the relationship between life and death, and everything in between.

    I wanted to know what's next through the entire thing, and even though I just heard the last line five minutes ago, I wish I had more. Not that the story feels incomplete, as it is quite perfect. I just wish I had more Murakami in my library. I hungrily devour everything he's ever written and can't wait for more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eleanor 11-15-12
    Eleanor 11-15-12
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    "Great narration"

    Not one of Murakami's best books in my opinion, but still very absorbing and intriguing. The fantastic narration really brings his absurd dream-like stories alive.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 11-14-12
    Tim United States 11-14-12 Member Since 2011

    Do you read the book before you dislike my reviews?

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Gracious Dream"

    It took me almost a week to finish reading "Kafka on the Shore." It is not because it was a bad read, but I wanted to take my time at consuming the story. I could had finish the book a lot faster, but after each break, it helped me understand what I read before and I could not wait where I left off..

    By far, this book is well written, well executed and just overall good. I did not wanted the dream to end. It's just a brilliant read from start to finish and the fantasy world, talking cats and the family incest between Kafka and his mother and his sister(?), makes it to be a taboo subject, but they all come together so graciously that you just appreciate the mind of Haruki Murakami.

    It took me a while on what should I title this review, but after writing this, the title just came to me.

    A Gracious Dream.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 10-23-12
    John 10-23-12
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    "Murakami has an ability to absorb you, very unique"

    I am now at a point that you can not go wrong with a Murakami book if you like his style. He picks top notch narrators for his books. The characters are rich in detail, the plots keep you guessing, and always with an abstract quality that makes for a unique experience. Highly recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Main Beach, Australia 10-17-12
    Susan Main Beach, Australia 10-17-12
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    "Kafka will stay in my mind, probably forever"

    I've not read any Japanese literature and chose this book because of the reviews written by other Audible listeners. I was not dissappointed and am currently downloading other Haruki Murakami novels to add to my library.

    If you have ever thought you're driven by something within you that is beyond expression, reading this beautiful story will ring bells of things hidden deep within.

    I love the supernatural setting uniquely placing the inhabitants of the world Kafka explores parrallel to reality. The lessons that Kafka learns on his journey as a 15 year old reflect so much about what it means to be driven to action by something 'other' regardless of consequence, sensibility and the need to keep oneself safe.
    The characters that make up the world Kafka finds himself in are at once porcelin and steel, obscure and recognisable, funny and sad, elegant, benign and frightening.

    This story will stay with me, probably forever.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kalyna Toronto, ON, Canada 09-27-12
    Kalyna Toronto, ON, Canada 09-27-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Mesmerizing"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    One of the best books I've ever read. Maybe slightly less refined than 1Q84, but still absolutely fabulous. Love the way the author thinks and writes. True literature. True genius.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Los Angeles, United States 09-17-12
    James Los Angeles, United States 09-17-12 Member Since 2013
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    "Is the whole world a metaphor?"
    Any additional comments?

    That might be the point of the book, as one of the characters suggests. I would agree with most of the other commentaries about this book, and have not read other HM books, but after such an intricate and fascinating weaving of plots and journeys of each of the characters - truly wonderful and potentially heavy with meaning, I was disappointed by the lack of resolution to the stories as a whole. All those strands do not get pulled together at the end in any way. You are indeed left wondering, "What was the point of it all?". And I'm afraid, despite the beauty of the story telling, that is not enough for me. I enjoyed the journey very much, but I also wanted a destination.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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