With Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami gives us a novel every bit as ambitious and expansive as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which has been acclaimed both here and around the world for its uncommon ambition and achievement, and whose still-growing popularity suggests that it will be read and admired for decades to come.
This magnificent novel has a similarly extraordinary scope and the same capacity to amaze, entertain, and bewitch. A tour de force of metaphysical reality, it is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom. Their odyssey, as mysterious to them as it is to us, is enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerizing events. Cats and people carry on conversations, a ghostlike pimp employs a Hegel-quoting prostitute, a forest harbors soldiers apparently unaged since World War II, and rainstorms of fish (and worse) fall from the sky. There is a brutal murder, with the identity of both victim and perpetrator a riddle - yet this, along with everything else, is eventually answered, just as the entwined destinies of Kafka and Nakata are gradually revealed, with one escaping his fate entirely and the other given a fresh start on his own.
Extravagant in its accomplishment, Kafka on the Shore displays one of the world's truly great storytellers at the height of his powers.
©2005 Haruki Murakami (P)2013 Random House Audio
"As powerful as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.... Reading Murakami ... is a striking experience in consciousness expansion." (The Chicago Tribune)
"An insistently metaphysical mind-bender." (The New Yorker)
"If he has not achieved that status already, Haruki Murakami is on course to becoming the most widely read Japanese writer outside Japan, past or present." (The New York Times)
Doctor of misanthropy
If I've been propelled through life by a continuously variable transmission, reading Murakami is like moving to a stick shift. And this is certainly an prime example of that.
Murakami makes you shift your perspective. Nothing as trivial as alternate universes (although he did use those in 1Q84), but more of a radical shift in how you perceive and model reality. If there is such a thing.
Many of Murakami's books take you to places that just require you to relinquish all control of your rationality. This one's a bit easier on you, having more of a standard narrative. It's only in the deeper contemplation of the story that you tend to lose your footing.
This book is all about deep emotion, how emotion defies all logic and reason, and how it is at the very core of our existence. In this respect, it's a surprisingly uplifting and empowering book, which is, to me, pretty good for what may look like simple storytelling.
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
and enthralling. A must experience from the Japanese Kakfa.Among his best work. Mature writing from an accomplished author
Very weird plot but charming in its way. I enjoyed this. I couldn't give 5 stars because it didn't blow me away. However, there is a philosophy lesson in every chapter and much of it reads like poetry. The ending was just okay but, in this book, it's really all about the journey.
yogini, knitter, quilter, sewist, stitcher, reader, cook, foodie, wine snob, francophile, wife, dog mom, SF Giants fan
The readers were amazing and so perfectly captured the characters. They turned a great story into a transcendent experience.
So hard to say, but probably Nakata. Although he is supposed to be a simpleton, he has a particular genius for living the life he is given and being happy with what he has.
My favorite scene is when Miss Saiki tells Kafka he has to go back to the world to remember her.
Absolutely. This is a very philosophical and emotional story. I cried in all the right places and laughed out loud at its wry wit. Loved it. Will definitely listen again.
From the start, it pulled me in and was a great escape from ordinary life. Perplexing, great story, amazing performance.
There is no way I would have gone as deep into the story without the performance these guys put on.
I commute 1 1/2 hours per day by car for my job. Great time to listen to a great book!
"Reading" this book on audio was a magical experience. The prose is beautiful and (mostly) calming. In a written book, I think i would have floundered in it a bit. But on a 45 minute commute each morning and evening, it was wonderful. (less)
The chapters alternate between the experiences of 15-year-old Kafka and 60-year-old Nagata. Both actors do wonderful jobs bringing the text to life.
He's just mad cause hes got sand in his v^gina, does it itch? does it?
Feels like this book was trying to be smarter than it actually was, in the end it left me with more plot questions than it actually answered. Perhaps I'm not in touch with the metaphors it was trying to depict, or perhaps it's just a bad over hyped book. I'm inclined to believe in the latter option.
It's like listening to a slow audio version of the TV show Lost, except far less interesting.
I hated pretty much every character in the book, I cringed as he kept referring to himself as the "toughest 15 year old in the world".... On what grounds exactly? The old repetitive man, the whiney boy, the tranny librarian, the old/young ghost/real lady. All pretentious boring characters.
Would not recommend.
I like Murakami's stories, but I do wonder about the translations from Japanese while listening to these novels. The phrases "I nod", and "I shake my head" occur several million times in this novel, and it is distracting. Is that really how Murakami wrote those actions? Somehow I think they would read better in Japanese.
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