32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 14 February 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.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 21 January 2005
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.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 31 March 2005
No need for a long review here. This a superb book, darker and more mystical than his previous novels, but no less entertaining. The story focuses about a young 14 year old who runs away from home and who's fate seem intertwined with a host of other fascinating characters, one of whom can talk to cats and who seems to be able to predict all kinds of strange objects falling from the sky.
By the end of this fabulous story you realise that this is a very profound and moving book, full of optimism and the possibilities of new beginnings ..
.. but I've already said too much. Just buy and enjoy it!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2005
How poetic can style be? How can anyone continue to write down beautifully balanced sentences like these? And how long can Murakami keep up this level of writing, without merely repeating himself or becoming a victim of his own strange imagination? Some of these questions came to me while reading this book. Admittedly, first i was not so blown off my feet by this book as i was after reading his others. But then Murakami hooked me yet again, and i have no idea how he did it this time. The book is remarkable, the story vintage Murakami: inventiveness, crystal clear style, not unlike his other novels. At the same time i realised how difficult it must be for Murakami to meet the standards he has set for himself: this book would be a tour de force for any writer, but for Murakami it's just one of his novels. So yes, Murakami delivers, but does not exceed expectations. That would be almost impossible, however, if you look at what books the man has written. However, the simple fact remains that most mortals would kill to be able to write a book like this.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 April 2007
Murakami's novel follows the fate of two unconventional characters. The first is called Kafka Tamura. He undertakes to run away from home on his fifteenth birthday, travel to a remote place and spend some time living in a library. His project turns out to be successful and so he finds himself at the Komura Library in Takamatsu where he meets Oshima and the enigmatic Miss Saeki.
The other character is an older man called Nakata, a master cat-finder who is able to converse with cats although he can neither read nor write.
Both Kafka and Nakata find their way to Takamatsu although they never meet. During their wanderings they meet all kinds of characters, some of them have a surrealistic nature. Indeed quite a few scenes have a dream-like quality because they are not rational. It is as if the reader were reading a sort of stream-of-consciousness but its form is fully structured unlike similar passages found in James Joyce or Virginia Wolf. It is a tale of quest which is highly inventive with cats conversing with people, fish raining from the sky and soldiers rambling in a forest, un-aged since the second World War...
The superb reading for Naxos Audiobooks is done by Sean Barrett and Oliver Le Sueur. A fantastic performance.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 2013
This book tells the story of a fifteen-year-old boy's journey through a storm, a right of passage that transforms him into a man. His name is Kafka and his story is intercut with that of a fifty-year-old man called Nakata. Kafka enjoys reading, but Nakata cannot read. It is the sense that these two journeys are linked by an obscure, but ineluctable fate, that sustains the reader's interest.
The storm is metaphysical and many of the story's events are metaphorical. There is a naturalistic history alongside a metaphorical world of characters and memories. This metaphorical world motivates, and occasionally creates inexplicable discontinuities in, the natural world.
When he was a child Nakata was the victim of one of the discontinuities. It transformed him into simpleton who finds stray cats to supplement his state pension. His intuitive journey converges with Kafka's flight from his father, and toward his lost mother and sister, in a private library near Takamatsu in Japan.
Kafka on the Shore illustrates the reciprocal interdependence between the enduring world and the timeless world. It is a theme that has fascinated many writers and their readers, but most have given a realistic account of how their protagonists are driven by these powers. However Murakami locates these powers in two characters and provides a powerful, dream-like account of their relationship that remains opaque.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 19 June 2006
This book opened my mind and assaulted my normalness.
It is poetry and anticipation, comfort and company.
Haruki Murakami writes like no other. His books became my friends and I would never be able to praise them enough.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2005
How is it possible to describe Murakami? Perhaps indicative of such originality, its only against his own work that it seems possible to find reference points.
All the usual Murakami preoccupations are here - cats, teenage love, and those stark juxtapositions of imagined worlds and 'reality'.
Beneath the surface comparisons that undoubtedly exist with'The Wind Up Bird Chronicle', the book that most frequently came to my mind was Murakami's non-fiction work 'Underground' (witness accounts of the Tokyo subway gas attack.)
In every respect 'Kafka..' is of course a novel, and yet Murakami has the courage to stretch the boundaries of all usual formats. His 'non-fiction' references are openly discussed: Jung, Goethe, and of course Franz Kafka are all cited at various times; his characters weave themselves into an entire fabric of 'authorship' and an ongoing struggle for identity. This is hugely ambitious writing, and yet Murakami makes it seem effortless, and searingly relevant.
In 'Underground' Murakami discussed the dangers of a psyche devoid of narrative: devoid of the personal mythic structures that can so enrich our lifes, and our times. This too is a prevalent theme of 'Kafka..' It's characters oscillate between a sense of personal authorship (ie writing their own destinies) and the fatalist current of being simply swept along by events. This oscillation becomes the enrichment of the characters. They grow as both the entirety of their own worlds (the absolute authors)and yet also as smaller parts of a greater whole.
There appears almost a Gnostic vein to this: the entitlement of personal imagination (vision)to become central to our lives: to grasp this paradox of at once being 'central' and yet inturn feeling 'side-lined' - 'Writer' and 'Written'. It's a plight, or perhaps more rightly, a progress, that Murakami describes with moving compassion for all his characters.
This is a compelling book; an author brimful of authority and decisive ideas.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2005
Murakami is my favourite author & I was afraid that this novel might let me down, thank God it didn't!
As with other Murakami novels if you tried to describe the story it would sound like nonsense, but for some reason when you are reading it, it just makes sense.
If you enjoyed this then try The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Murakami's masterpiece!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2005
I think this book is genuius. The story is intriguing with some beautifully illustrated twists. The characters are dynamite, Nataka especilly; who wouldn't want this man to make it?
Murukami's ususal themes are there but in a way that makes them more plausible than in say, "Dance, Dance Dance" and the character development I think is his best yet. The conversations between Miss Saeki and Kafka are touching and as the reader you can really empathise with each of them.
One of those books that you at can't put down but at the same time, dread finishing it.