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)
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.
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.
I would not! Best title ever! Wish I were in a band of that name!
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.
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.
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.
yes, but it's impossibe to as it was over 24 hours long.
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.
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.
I have never read a book that compares. Great books, 5 star books, of course, but not ones comparable to Kafka on the Shore.
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.
Kafka because I think he is sexy.
Near perfection. but be careful, it takes you far away sometimes. Do not operate heavy machinery. or operate on people. while listening.
interesting, thought-provoking, repetitious
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
I love Nakata - so much to learn from him!
Probably would do well with an abridgment - some of the scenes were repeats. Nevertheless I went on to buy 1Q84 which is 45+ hours!
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!!
"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.
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.
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.
"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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