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)
Sure, I'd love to hear your story....
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.
Probably no. It was wierd but not bad, just wierd.
I don't know. There was alot of unimportant information that did nothing to enhance the book.
The old guy, Nacamura something.
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.
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.
I am a 27 year old nurse pursuing a nurse practitioner degree. My favorite book genres are: fantasy, science fiction, medicine and sociology
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.
Do you read the book before you dislike my reviews?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"A new dimension of fiction and sleep"
I always find it hard deciding which titles to make my next listen as I like the idea of listening to something relatively unknown to me. This time I decided to search by Narrator as I tend to get quite attached to them given that they are always the last voice I hear in my ear before drifting off to sleep each night.
I?d recently listened to Troubles by J.G Farrell, superbly narrated by Sean Barrett so it was him that led me to Kafka on the Shore and what a treat it is. I love this book, it?s like entering a whole new world of fiction. It?s like going on a wonderful mysterious journey and having absolutely no idea what?s around the next corner. There's no formula here, no expected outcomes. I was worried before I started that it may be a bit too off par for me, but maybe its the way its written or narrated I?m not sure, but somehow Haruki Murakami makes some very unusual events such as a man capable of talking to cats seem completely acceptable and not at all distracting.
The only problem (if you can call it a problem) with this book is that it does have quite a soothing effect and is somewhat dreamlike so it may take you longer than you?d hoped to finish it but you?ll have plenty of good sleep in the process!
From being initially unconvinced by the narrators voice (I am particularly picky on this, which is why this was my first choice - as a few of the others had more American clich? accents), it certainly grew on me. The characters come alive so beautifully that it really is completely immersing. This is the first Murakami novel I have listened to, and it certainly won't be my last. It's a wonderful entwining story which bounces around between so bitterly real and amazingly fantastical ideas, and yet flows so well.
"Strange other-worldly trip."
Two storylines entwined in alternate chapters that come together at the end. Very difficult to describe what happens in the story as it is very surreal, but it definitely keeps you interested throughout. Do not expect a complete explanation of everything that happens in this book - it leaves a lot of puzzles for the reader/listener to mull over and from talking to people who have also read it, it seems some points of interpretation are particularly personal. For this reason, the open strands of the story work very well which is a tribute to the author?s deft manipulation of the storyline and the reader. Do not be put off if you like 'closed' stories - I do too, but in this case I make an exception as it was so well done. This was my first HM but won't be my last.
I can honestly say I was absolutely bowled over by this book. I had never read any Murakami before and this came as an utter delight and surprise. It is an extraordinary mix of all sorts of genres, but is ultimately nothing like anything else I have read. It is intellectually and emotionally thoroughly satisfying, ad well as having a totally gripping plot. The two readers are wonderful, and I suspect this is even better to listen to, than to read on the page. I envy anyone who has not read this book, because the journey ahead of you is truly wonderful.
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.
"Not much time for this but...."
Not really a review more a rave. I think Murukami works even better on audio than on the page. Not all authors do - but if you've ever been even slightly hypnotised by an author's style, then surely this book will do it to you as well.
I tend to listen somewhere in between dreaming and waking - and Kafka on the Shore fills that space entirely.
Once aquired, the taste of Murakami is unbeatable.
"The surreal world of Murakami"
I've enjoyed a few Murakami books now, I love them all for the surreal view he gives into the world. I come away from each book feeling like the real world might be a facade to some underlying game that this author pulls the curtain back on.
The main self named Kafka character is the toughest 15 year old on the planet, and what an odd planet. So many odd things happen to him, but he keeps it all together. I could read another book on his life now, it feels like as the book starts he has a back story that should be written somewhere else.
Murakami as an Author seems to enter the same odd world in each of his books. They each feel like a puzzle that is hinting at a larger truth, and I love each glimpse, but in-between I read something trashy to take away the feeling of oddness! Can't recommend more.
I gave this 4 stars because it was narrated really well and was quite compelling but I have to admit It was a bit alternative for me and I don't really know what some of it was about. Too many sub plots and too contrived I think.
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”.
"Strange and captivating"
Loved this. HM writes so differently to any other author I've come across, it's beautifully refreshing. His story telling just draws me in - the characters come to life, he breathes so much reality into them; which seems absolutely bizarre when also considering the surreal world he actually creates the characters in...
The narrators for this book are perfect. Although their tone and the dreamlike nature of much of the story did send me off to sleep a few times, which isn't too bad a thing, nice and restful!
If you've not tried HM before, go for it, you're in for a wonderful experience.
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