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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 (1536 )
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4.5 (845 )
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    James sydney, Australia 09-17-12
    James sydney, Australia 09-17-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    K Bethel, CT, United States 04-24-12
    K Bethel, CT, United States 04-24-12 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    6
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Thank you for removing your retainer"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This was my first Murakami and my first audible book. Before audible, I'd used one of those free apps with non-professional narrators with retainers, lisps, or russian accents that switched every chapter... And although anything might impress me after that, this really was special. The narration was perfect in each of the character's voices. Kafka's voice was particularly fitting-- he sounded just as sincere, pained, and thoughtful as the character himself.

    As for the story, I'm sure it's not for everyone, but I LOVED it and can't wait to read or listen to more Murakami. There is quite a bit of symbolism and fantasy in the story that may just bug more straight-laced literal readers, but if you enjoy some literary stimulation like me, you won't be disappointed. It's not heavy-scholarly stimulation, to be clear, but thought-provoking and conscious-prodding.

    I've listened to several more books since this one, so I can say with a bit more credibility now that this is still probably the best-narrated book I've come across.


    If you could rename Kafka on the Shore, what would you call it?

    I would not! Best title ever! Wish I were in a band of that name!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Wareham, MA, United States 04-19-12
    Amazon Customer Wareham, MA, United States 04-19-12 Member Since 2011

    L. Taylor

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    "Deep, psychadelic, deep"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Kafka on the Shore to be better than the print version?

    Probably, It was good to hear the Chinese inflection opposed to my English thoughts. As there were so many things going on, it's easier to listen to a story like this than read it. I might have not continued reading as at times it seemed it would read slowly, but the narrator was very interesting in changing pitch, tone, etc.


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

    I loved when the old man talked to cats, met Johnny Walker, (who turns out to be the father of Kafka and has a normal Chinese name) the whole time of the old man and his journey of being simple minded due to having half a shadow, and as a gentle soul, kills Johnny Walker, as JW cut off cat heads in this pretend world. In the real world Kafka's dad is found murdered, Kafka wakes up covered in blood and doesn't know why. There is lots of symbolism, weirdism, great stuff in this novel.


    What does Sean Barrett and Oliver Le Sueur bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I like the way he changes his voice, accent, the lilt and tone of his voice. I wouldn't read the way he reads as I am not familiar with Chinese culture.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    yes, but it's impossibe to as it was over 24 hours long.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Baars Netherlands 03-16-12
    J. Baars Netherlands 03-16-12 Member Since 2009

    Jose Baars

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    "A beautiful fairy tale"

    Kafka on the shore describes the coming of age of a boy, the death of people living in the past and the wake up of people wasting their lives.

    I think this morality tale is mistaken by many reviewers as philosophical, but that is in my view beside the point. It's about what is good and what is not.

    I loved this book, and the narration is sublime.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jai Douglas, AZ, United States 03-13-12
    Jai Douglas, AZ, United States 03-13-12 Member Since 2004
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    31
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    "An Astonishingly Breathtaking Book"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    It would depend on the friend. This book is not for everyone. If understanding something easily and clearly, I would not recommend this book to anyone. I would recommend it to my friends who appreciate surreal art.


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

    I have never read a book that compares. Great books, 5 star books, of course, but not ones comparable to Kafka on the Shore.


    What does Sean Barrett and Oliver Le Sueur bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I was truly startled by the British accents since this book is set in Japan with Japanese characters and I expected Japanese readers. HOWEVER, the readers managed to give the book a whole Western flavor that I didn't get from my first three (Kindle) readings (and probably never would have gotten.) I think they helped me understand what the hell the book means a little bit more.


    If you could take any character from Kafka on the Shore out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Kafka because I think he is sexy.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    harper New York, NY, United States 12-28-11
    harper New York, NY, United States 12-28-11 Member Since 2009
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    15
    5
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    "Luminous, thinly."
    Any additional comments?

    Near perfection. but be careful, it takes you far away sometimes. Do not operate heavy machinery. or operate on people. while listening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa Barrington, RI, United States 12-21-11
    Lisa Barrington, RI, United States 12-21-11 Member Since 2002

    I LOVE anything audio - books, podcasts, lectures. I listen mostly when moving -driving, dog walking, or before bed to clear the mind.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Magical realism in Japan"
    What did you like about this audiobook?

    interesting, thought-provoking, repetitious


    How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

    Parellel plot held my interest, magical realism - I was never quite sure when it was reality and when it drifted into fantasy; learning something of the Japanese culture


    Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

    I love Nakata - so much to learn from him!


    Do you have any additional comments?

    Probably would do well with an abridgment - some of the scenes were repeats. Nevertheless I went on to buy 1Q84 which is 45+ hours!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily Foothill Ranch, CA, United States 10-26-11
    Emily Foothill Ranch, CA, United States 10-26-11
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    "Wonderful!"

    This is my favorite book, and the narrators were pretty great. They both had not only very pleasant voices to begin with, they also were able to really bring life to the different characters. Definitely worth a listen!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    "unknown" Huntington Beach, CA, United States 09-25-11
    "unknown" Huntington Beach, CA, United States 09-25-11
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    2
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    "Thoughtful double-story."

    Two stories that are affected by metaphysical phenomenons. Lots of references to OBE's and NDE's. Murakami is as philosophical as usual with all the metaphors and allegories to enhance the performance. I knew the Kafka and Nakata plot lines were going to tie in eventually, but it seemed abrupt in the way that it was. Lot of things remained vague on Kafka's upbringing and the whole entrance stone concept, and I guess that, in the end, Murakami decided that Kafka's ominous past nor the limbo-like realm was important. Consequently, the chapters involving Kafka became kind of frustrating. However, I was glad on the Hoshino's character development in the Nakata plot line, even though it was a bit more mysticized. Maybe the fact that it's an audible, I probably missed a few things here and there.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Yim 12-15-10
    Jason Yim 12-15-10 Member Since 2006
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
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    "It's great to hear it."

    I'm fond of the author and his novels.
    So I already know the all parts of this novels here and there.
    And the narrators' voices and reading skills are quite great.

    For me as a foreigner using English as a second language, the narrators's voice tone is very helpful to hear the whole story without feeling boring.

    Thank to Sean Barrett , Oliver Le Sueur.
    Their voice and command of English sounds a bit like an European.
    That factor is also quite intriguing to me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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