Kafka on the Shore

Length: 19 hrs and 8 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (3,462 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

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Thanks to the work of translators and publishers, Japanese literature is now more accessible than ever to English-speaking audiences. If you've ever wanted to learn more about Japanese culture and literature, you cannot go wrong with listening to audiobooks from Japan. We've compiled a list of the most famous Japanese authors who have helped define Japanese literature, and their notable works across genres and time periods.

What listeners say about Kafka on the Shore

Average Customer Ratings
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Wonderful Story, Perfectly Read

What made the experience of listening to Kafka on the Shore the most enjoyable?

The readers were amazing and so perfectly captured the characters. They turned a great story into a transcendent experience.

Who was your favorite character and why?

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.

Which scene was your favorite?

My favorite scene is when Miss Saiki tells Kafka he has to go back to the world to remember her.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

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.

13 people found this helpful

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What's better than Murakami? More Murakami

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.

32 people found this helpful

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I'm finally done. Finally.

Good narrator. Hard to recommend this book for a couple reasons.

On the low ground: The story drags. Conflict resolution is about the quality of vending machine food. Some parts lack any feeling, while others are overbearing with emotions. Complete randomness and poor plot devices.

On the middle ground: There are some taboo moral and social ideals present that are not commonly approached in writing. Some parts are left void of detail for you to draw your own conclusions.

On the high ground: Back stories are executed with skill. There are some great tie-ins to philosophy and art that strengthen the story. There is a scattering of moments that feel genuinely life-like.

Overall, the misgivings of the story cause it to constantly toe the line between introspection and exhaustion. This book may simply not be my type and could be yours, but I believe I've given an honest opinion of it here.

22 people found this helpful

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Done with Murakami for awhile

Kafka is my 3rd Murakami title and probably the one I liked best. So why am I done with Murakami for now? It has to do with how he handles the final act. In Wild Sheep Chase, Wind-up Bird, and now Kafka... he does a great job (albeit slow at times as others have mentioned) of putting together an interesting tapestry of characters and situations. Building up a storyline that compels you to listen for just a bit longer. Sometimes extremely mysterious characters are introduced, that have you wondering throughout the book how their story or influence will play a role in what's to come. But Murakami doesn't care. Perhaps they will come back and play a role. Perhaps they won't. It's not until that final page when we make the realization that the interesting character or storyline that we wanted to fully understand will forever remain a mystery. Sure, there's a basic storyline resolution usually with the lead character reaching a new level of self understanding, but just as many loose ends and questions will remain a mystery. For me, that's not enough payoff for the investment of time. Time to find another author.

15 people found this helpful

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Love it!

Both of the voice actors bring all the characters brilliantly alive with their performances. The nuances of the language and simple elegance of the dialogue is not wasted, but cherished. I wholeheartedly recommend this reading of the book.

15 people found this helpful

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Hauntingly Surreal...

and enthralling. A must experience from the Japanese Kakfa.Among his best work. Mature writing from an accomplished author

8 people found this helpful

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A seemingly schizophrenic odyssey

I listened intently though the entire book, replaying when I missed things or needed clarification. The performances were fantastic and varied, and I was intrigued all the way through. However, I found myself constantly wondering just what I was listening to... coming of age tale with taboo erotic undertones? Sci fi or alternate history novel? Alice-in-wonderland style head trip? Creature horror? Time travel, parallel universe, or occult fiction? Tragic tale of love lost? Or were all of these elements an intentional deconstruction of the medium itself? I still don't know.

3 people found this helpful

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Wow!

I’m not sure how to review this book. There was time travel, dream sequences, flashbacks, a man who could talk to cats, friendships and rock that opened doors... some descriptions were a little long and a bit too much sex, but overall I really enjoyed the book. Haven’t read anything like it before.

3 people found this helpful

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Great narration, beautifully crafted story

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.

9 people found this helpful

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Kafka on the Shore

Excellent .Very well developed main characters. I didn't want the book to end. Performance of the two narrators was wonderful.

2 people found this helpful