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Editorial 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

Critic Reviews

  • 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 Ratings

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  • Marta
  • Maçussa, Portugal
  • 07-24-12

It stays with you against your own will..

If you could sum up Kafka on the Shore in three words, what would they be?

IT gets under your skin no matter what.. I had mixed feelings while listening to it but I couldn't get it out of my head afterwords. And it keeps getting back to me.

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

The 'migration' of souls is a recurrent theme in Murakami and in this book it is very clear and beautifully put. The idea that we can help each other by 'receiving' their souls and doing something on their behalf, with their spirit in us is dramatic but very human and touching.

Which character – as performed by Sean Barrett and Oliver Le Sueur – was your favorite?

I loved all of them, as usual. Murakami's chaaracters are all special and rich, 'normal' and unique, universal and japanese all at once.. The readers are perfect for each voice.

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

Yes, as all of HM..

Any additional comments?

It is a pretty special book, even within the many I've read of Murakami. I wouldn't recomend it as a first book of the author, but it's a fantastic book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • ratna
  • Northam, Australia
  • 07-22-12

Insightful, cultural and sexy

What did you love best about Kafka on the Shore?

The rich layering of relationships, Kafka and his journey- the symbolism of the sanctuary of the library and the fluid transistions across time and space; the gender bender osimo, and characterisations of all. Sweetly and clearly narrated. A great Listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Roslyn
  • Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada
  • 07-08-12

I love that I never know what to expect

Any additional comments?

I really enjoy this author. His character development is satisfying and deep without being overdone. I am constantly amazed by his books because though I don't identify with his characters and the story lines are fantastic enough that you can't identify with them either somehow I still can't put them down. They are romantic without sentiment and have an unflinching, direct tone that I find both disturbing and engrossing. A rare find that hits all the right notes. On par with the others I have read of his: The wind up bird Chronicle and IQ84.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Magic Realism

If you could sum up Kafka on the Shore in three words, what would they be?

I liked the Realism, tinged with Magic, and laced throughout with Epiphanies; in regular rhythm exploding with Surprises.

Who was your favorite character and why?

My favorite character is the 15 yr. old boy. He creates a nostalgia for my own youth.

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

I comprehend the book better; the words flow like soy sauce pouring over rice balls.

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

I found nothing wrong with the narrator's performance. Their style was transparent as if I was reading the book to myself; their narration my internal voice. I comprehended the book better than if I read it myself.

Any additional comments?

The experience of listening to the book is like a waking dream.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The most amazing, weird story

I love Murakami and this reading by Barrett and le Sueur had me hooked. The back and forth between the (eventually) intertwined stories was very compelling. I thought both readers did a very good job of interpreting Japan as the setting. I still have flashbacks to the story, it was so immediate.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Huh? Come again

I really really wanted to love this book. There are vignettes throughout the book that are amazing. I found myself spellbound for passages. However, greater minds than mine are needed to hold the whole thing together. When someone figures this out, drop me a line. The narration is excellent. I thought the characters came alive.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A touching, mind-bending tale

When listening to a book, the narrator is very important to me and this book has by far some of the best. Layers of complexity and emotions were added by Barrett, Le Sueur and others, which made this already fascinating story even harder to put down.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Nicolle
  • Sydney, Australia
  • 04-14-11

Fantastic!

This was by far the most unusual yet understandable book I have read.. I loved everything about this book and thought the the characters were all brilliant reflections of life! The author Haruki, has this amazing ability to transcend any logic and make it believavble and romantic at the same time! I love his writing style, and his story telling.
I could not stop listnenig to this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Thana
  • Singapore, Singapore
  • 03-11-11

Weird but Strangely Wonderful

This was one of the best audio books I have heard. The narration is superb. The story transfixes and pulls the reader into the strange labyrinth of a mysterious world at the boundary of the physical world. It's a weird but strangely wonderful love story. Not the sort of book that I would normally read, but I was spellbound and moved.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A mystery in all its myriad implications

One of the most common complaints readers have about mysteries is their disappointing and often pat resolutions. Kafka is a complex, enigmatic character, whose motives constitute pieces of a jigsaw which does not complete his portrait until his journey ends. He gains maturity as his personality unravels. The mystery is likewise expanded as it is revealed. Murakami builds a story as he tears it apart. I was at once shattered and haunted by the fluid intricacy of this ineffable narrative.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Nils
  • 01-18-12

An unsettling and reassuring "read"

Expertly read, this title is a work of depth, of feelings and mysterious events, all tied together in an intricate and often grotesque - yet somehow completely believable - fabric.

Lots of references to works of art - literature and music - but always to nudge the reader deeper into the mysteries of the human heart and of life itself.

I am glad I chose to listen to this title. Murakami does not spare us the horrific cruelty that is all too often part of man, but he abundantly makes up for it through his love for his characters. I very rarely shed tears over books, but this one did it. It has enriched me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tanya
  • 10-12-11

FABULOUS

This book was a complete departure for me. It was a recommendation by my daughter as I wanted to broaden my genre.

I loved this book and was hooked by all the characters, they all had a role and interlinked beautifully.

I enjoyed the 2 narrators interpreation of the varius characters.

Give this book a go you will not be dissapointed. But you must keep an open mind this is a totally different sty;e of book and I think i would be hard pressed to put it under any particular Genre

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Serena
  • 07-26-11

Absolutely brilliant, if a little bit weird...

I became totally hooked on this book - couldn't wait to listen to the next chapter. I'm not sure I understood all of it, and will listen to it again once a suitable passage of time has passed.
It has certainly interested me in checking out some other books by the same author.
It isn't a simple tale, but is enjoyable, makes you think and certainly is like nothing else I've read or listened to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Susan
  • 05-26-11

Magical and curious

More than a touch of magical realism here with almost haiku-ish descriptions and characters as if in a dream. Plot never fully resolved but I love the ambiguity and the space it gives you to puzzle about the world it describes. The world of the real Japan is there in the background but never forced at you: it subtly invades your thoughts and dreams. Quite who was Kafka on the shore? And what an odd world of his imagination he creates. Rather unsettling at times but a calm narrator helps it all feel very normal.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Brian
  • 09-14-10

A first for everything.

I was very surprised about this audiobook and was looking for an esape.I found it, totally, with this book. The narrator was great also. The journey was so way out of the reality but I was believing it all. Going into the plot would be of no use, you will just have to trust a gamble and listen, but I do hope like myself, you will want more of this type of book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Welsh Mafia
  • 11-01-09

The Best of Murakami?

If you know the work of Haruki Murakami and have not yet tried ?Kafka on the Shore? then you are in for a real treat ? better even more enjoyable than 'Norwegian Wood' in my view. If you are not familiar with Murakami?s work then you are in for an even bigger treat ? once you have worked your way carefully through the first chapter the narrative starts to fly and will capture you as it did me. This strong and unique vein of modern Japanese writing is one of the best discoveries that I have made in the last few years and has enriched my reading beyond measure.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • M J.
  • 11-24-11

Narrators were great, but didn't like the story

Had a discussion at work with some friends. As I explained the story to them, it seemed as though we hadn't read the same book. If you enjoy "strange" stories, with strange things happening - a bit too incoherent for me - then this book is for you. I didn't like the overall story, although the old guy is a funny and entertaining character. But the story is too "abstract" for me.

Last but not least: I must congratulate the narrators who did a great job !

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Roger Donald
  • 08-04-15

All a bit odd

I read lots of reviews of this book and author and the majority were positive. it's an OK story but rather hard work to read between the lines and get the subtext of what the author is testing to convey. if you want an easy listen this might not be the story for you.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-22-18

Most exquisite book I have encountered

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Firstly the book is phenomenal and the narration is flawless - both narrators are perfect beyond perfect.

What did you like best about this story?

It is impossible to select one piece from this very deep and interwoven work of art. Murakami weaves together the most wondrous story lines and leaves a lot of the meaning to the reader. This book was recommended to me by a friend and I may be in her debt for the rest of my life because of it.

Which character – as performed by Sean Barrett and Oliver Le Sueur – was your favourite?

All. Literally.

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

I practically did.

Any additional comments?

Purchase it immediately and give it the respect it deserves by listening about 10 times.

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  • Pablo, London UK
  • 01-19-18

Mind boggling narrative, very entertaining delivery

I’d read a couple of books by Murakami before I found Kafka on the Shore and I felt that finally I understood what the rave is all about! It’s a brilliant, bold narrative, a tale apparently well immersed in the magical tales of Japanese folklore, that never loses pace, and which left me sometimes gasping, sometimes shocked, at times terrified and even aroused. It’s funny, shocking, surprising and masterfully crafted. I absolutely recommend it, if you don’t mind a bit of or magical realism (or a lot of it for that matter).

The audiobook itself has quality to match: entertaining, well acted, altering the pace as required by the different narrators’ points of view. It quickly hooked me up and I spent hours listening to it, literally. I would happily listen to some parts of it again.