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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 (1619 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Tim United States 11-14-12
    Tim United States 11-14-12 Member Since 2011

    Putting books on the back burner.

    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 Huntington Beach, CA, United States 10-23-12
    John Huntington Beach, CA, United States 10-23-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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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    2
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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
    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 2014
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    "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
  •  
    Kindle Customer/Read This Book Wareham, MA, United States 04-19-12
    Kindle Customer/Read This Book Wareham, MA, United States 04-19-12 Member Since 2014

    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 2013
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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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    "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
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