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Kafka on the Shore [Hardcover]

Haruki Murakami , Philip Gabriel
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (184 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Jan 2005
"A stunning work of art," the New York Observer wrote of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, "that bears no comparisons," and this is also true of this magnificent new novel, which is every bit as ambitious, expansive and bewitching. A tour-de-force of metaphysical reality, Kafka on the Shore is powered by two remarkable characters. At fifteen, Kafka Tamura runs away from home, either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister. And the aging Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction, finds his highly simplified life suddenly upset. Their odyssey, as mysterious to us as it is to them, 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 fall from the sky. There is a brutal murder, with the identity of both victim and perpetrator a riddle. Yet this, like 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.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: The Harvill Press; First Edition edition (6 Jan 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843431106
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843431107
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 15.4 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (184 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 265,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949. Following the publication of his first novel in Japanese in 1979, he sold the jazz bar he ran with his wife and became a full-time writer. It was with the publication of Norwegian Wood - which has to date sold more than 4 million copies in Japan alone - that the author was truly catapulted into the limelight. Known for his surrealistic world of mysterious (and often disappearing) women, cats, earlobes, wells, Western culture, music and quirky first-person narratives, he is now Japan's best-known novelist abroad.

Product Description


`His books are very moving and poetic' --Red Magazine

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 --Audible --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Book Description

October 2014 sees the publication of the Vintage Magic collection: nine mesmerizing novels that explore all aspects of the supernatural and the fantastical.

'I think of rivers, of tides. Forests and water gushing out. Rain and lightning. Rocks and shadows. All of these are in me'

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet another left field hit for Murakami 14 Feb 2005
This author is smply breathtaking. Any readers familiar with his earlier novels will know what to expect in 'Kafka On The Shore' and they will not be disapointed at all. Murakami brings us typically enigmatic female characters, teenagers in emotional turmoil and the type of time/reality bending that he currently sets the gold standard for.
I believe that in this novel he has created some of his most entertaining leads to date, and has delivered a story that is almost painful to read with the sense of personal loss that it conveys.
I was particularly impressed with the authors refusal to provide neat closure on all issues. Murakami knows that life is simply more complex than that and always leaves certain questions in his books unanswered. This along with the semi mystical world he has again conjured up make this book absolutely delightful to read.
Explaining the plot of a book like this is wrong in a review, but suffice to say that if you have not read any of his work before, this book is an excellent starting point and I fully believe that if you get yourself a copy and give up a weekend to it, you will be very happy you did, and will probably work through his whole catalogue. I know of nobody who has failed to fall under Marukami's spell.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brimming with ideas 25 July 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I can't think of a book that I've read that has so many things going on. It is an overflowing pot full of ideas and sequences competing for your attention. I am still digesting the book - only finished it this morning - but it seems to me the book is about metaphor and writing. There is a world of meaning but it's fleeting and if you try to hold on to it you do so at a great cost. Ultimately, the task is futile. There is also a message about growing up and renewal - we must leave things we love behind and move on. We can carry memories with us. But memories that are held too tightly become like a weight too heavy to bear. Ultimately though this book probably defies synopsis and that is probably the point. It is about the 90% of our mind that we only glimpse through dreams or actions we can't fully understand. It defies rational explanation.
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74 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling 5 Nov 2006
What a wonderful book, the definition of a page-turner. The novel is really two stories in one, and slowly they both loosely intersect. The first main character is Kafka, a 15 year old boy who hates his father, so he runs away from home to find himself. The other main character is an elderly man called Nakata, who is rendered mentally defective at a young age and then develops the ability to talk to cats (no really). So much happens in 'Kafka on the Shore' that it would be fruitless for me to write an overview, but what I really loved about this book is that you get completely lost in Kafka's journey and want to know what's going to happen next, and then the following chapter is about Nakata. At first you start reading faster to get back to Kafka's story but then you get engulfed by Nakata's, and the same happens again when you get back to Kafka - it's brilliant. I thought the ending was a little cliché at first, but once I thought about it, I realised it was just a return to the normalcy that began the book. Highly recommended...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strangely calming 21 Jan 2005
By A Customer
For a book that has brutality and sex, and several deaths, this still left me feeling strangely calm and hopeful that long felt hurt can be resolved. For the most part the story moves along well, told simply, and full of compelling and sympathetic characters. When it moves into mystical, other worldly areas the best way is to go with the flow. I had never read this author before, suspecting he might be too weird for me, but this was wonderful. There is not a wasted word in the 500 pages, and the various plots are brought together superbly. Read it with an open mind, but definitely read it.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous quest 28 Jun 2006
What can the world's most brave 15-year-old boy do, being haunted by a most fearful omen cast upon him by his own father? The answer is so obvious: start a fantastic journey towards an unknown-subconsciously known destination, aiming for a magical place under the form of a library. If because of such demand cats must talk, men must die, lives have to be changed forever, strange ancient mysteries have to be brought to light, a dumb man suddenly feels the urge to become a better human being and a young boy has to learn the different mysterious paths of life, well .... Those are only minor details.

This book is a fantastic metaphor which I've found myself unable to stop reading. The way I understood the story is certainly different from the way almost any other reader will understand it and that possibility of multiple different interpretations according to each one's own life experience is, I believe, part of the brilliancy in which it is written.

The text is at the same time funny, amusing, tender and dramatic. The plot is intriguing and the lessons you learn during this journey, well, they are really up to you... All possibilities are left open here. The only thing that can not happen is to NOT read this book. Certainly a masterpiece of modern literature. At the end you enjoyed the art of a master, admired his work, delighted yourself with his mind and, at least for myself, wondered how fabulous it would be to actually meet this author.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars great book. Thank you
Fast delivery, great book. Thank you!
Published 2 days ago by S. Moss
5.0 out of 5 stars Confused
I just funished this book. In my case it was an audio version from Audible.
I am still a bit lost as it was my first voyage with Murakami. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Mrs. E. Ahadi
5.0 out of 5 stars His best work
Maybe because this was the first book by Murakami that I ever read, which made me want to read the rest, I stil believe this is his best, most breathtaking work. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Sanah Faridi
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful, magical, lyrical. The prose is beautiful, the story enthralling.
Published 14 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written! Love it
Very addictive! Beautifully written! Love it!
Published 16 days ago by loobyful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book. But I enjoy everything Murakami does
Brilliant book. But I enjoy everything Murakami does. His work just appeals to me so much. I ration his books out as I don't want to come to the end. Read more
Published 24 days ago by byron lad
5.0 out of 5 stars Strange, slow, seductive and surreal, and yet I couldn't put it down.
Strange, slow, seductive and surreal, and yet I couldn't put it down. Like all of Mjrakami's books, I cannot explain why I like the, I just do.
Published 1 month ago by Inside Out
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great story, although I think the ending could have been better. Definitely worth the read
Published 1 month ago by MR Mahdi Eftekhari Moghaddam
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Puzzled Pixie
5.0 out of 5 stars It only gets better.
Even on my second reading, this melancholic, wistful dream of a novel about adolescent need and longing leaves me stunned. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
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