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)
After looking for something a bit different to read, I came across Murakami's The Wind Up Bird Chronicles, which I thoroughly enjoyed. In fact, this could be a review for both, because whilst the stories are very different, they both affected me in the same way. The Wind up Bird lead me to Kafka as I hadn't yet had my fill of Murakami's unusual, haunting and intelligent style.
Kafka on the Shore is not brilliant or perfect, and there are many flaws (I think), but despite all this, the story grabbed me from the beginning and didn't let go until the very end.
I liked the characters and found them believable, even though objectively they were all a tad unbelievable. I didn't find the story confusing, despite many confusing elements. Murakami leaves a lot to the reader (listener) to decide. I have my own theory on what it all meant, which works very well for me, but may not be even close to what others believe. That's one of Kafka's many appeals.
I loved the surreal style where you constantly wondered if it was supernatural events, or some kind of schizophrenic characters interpretation of the world.
It is hard to select one. Kafka, because I think you can relate to his lost-ness. Nakata is a character you cannot help but love, especially his conversations with cats. Colonel Sanders and Johnny Walker are right up there because of the absurdity.
The end of the book is moving but specifics would spoil it for those who have not read the book.
I listen to audiobooks when I drive and when I hike.
I tried a couple times to get into this novel, but I never got past the first three hours. My mind would just drift away because it was so slow moving. Maybe a story eventually develops, but I'll never know.
The story and the performance was amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this author and the performers. I thought it was humorous though hearing a New York accent for a Japanese truck driver; very entertaining.
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.
I read nothing that is popular.
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 had already read this book and loved it. The audible version is excellent-the narrators are both excellent. I would highly recommend this title
"enchanting. lovely voice"
beautifully written, lovely reading of it.
some readers i find their voice annoying, but these guys were GREAT
"I liked the first half"
Then it started getting boring, i only really enjoyed nakata's tale after a while, Kafka's tale was heavy with all those introspective details.
A good book nonetheless, too long though.
"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.
"Entrancing, beguiling narration"
The two narrators were fantastic. They really brought the novel, and its characters, to life.
Probably only another Murakami book.
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.
Not really, but I was entranced & didn't want to stop listening.
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.
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