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Kafka on the Shore
Kafka on the Shore
Author: Haruki Murakami
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 magn...  more »
ISBN-13: 9781400043668
ISBN-10: 1400043662
Publication Date: 1/18/2005
Pages: 448
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.

4.1 stars, based on 45 ratings
Publisher: Knopf
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback
Members Wishing: 16
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

Yoni avatar reviewed Kafka on the Shore on + 327 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This is a beautiful book. It bends reality, space, and time. All to make you think, and for a short while, you are in a different world. I loved it.
reviewed Kafka on the Shore on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Haruki Murakami is a fascinating and interesting writer and boy howdy is he preoccupied with his penis. I mean, his protagonist's penis. Penises in general. Every book of his I've read is penispenispenis.

But boy can he write. Kafka on the Shore is "magical realism," which as the old joke goes, is "fantasy when it's not written in English." More seriously, it's one of those books where otherworldly things happen that the reader is asked to simply accept. There is no explanation for how someone can exist simultaneously as an old man and a fifteen-year-old boy in order to be in two places at once, or why conceptual incarnations take the corporeal form of Colonel Sanders, or why Nakata can talk to cats.

Kafka Tamura is a teenager running away from his father's Oedipal prophecy. The voice in his head is a boy named Crow, who tells him he must become "the world's toughest fifteen-year-old." He takes up residence in a library overseen by a gender-bending librarian, encounters a woman who may be his mother and a girl who may be his sister, and screws both of them. It may be a dream. But Murakami describes every encounter in very corporeal detail. Penispenispenis!

Meanwhile, Nakata, an old man who was mentally damaged/traumatized by an event that happened to him at the end of the war but left with the ability to talk to cats, has to find a family's housecat and stop a cat serial killer. This leads to him becoming a fugitive, where he encounters a truck driver who joins him on his quest to find a stone, in a bizarre urban Japanese inversion of your typical fantasy quest.

Nakata's quest and Tamura's are linked, but the links are never clearly defined; indeed, it's not entirely clear how their two character arcs are connected at all, though they may be the same person.

If this review fails to convey much sense of the plot, it's because Murakami's plots are... really hard to describe. He throws a little bit of everything into the story. And lots of penis. But the prose is liquid and lyrical, even in translation, and the story carries you along like a rushing stream, batting you about so you're not quite sure where you are going but you at least have a vague sense that you are going somewhere. And where it dumps you, who can say?

I liked it. But it's weird. Like everything Murakami writes. And seriously, dude, enough with the penises.
reviewed Kafka on the Shore on + 72 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
One of the best I've read in awhile. It takes place in Japan, which gave me a glimpse of modern day Japanese life. It's just like ours. Characters are finding their selves and their past with a little supernatural help.
reviewed Kafka on the Shore on + 133 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
A creative and odd little story that sucks you in true Kafka-esque fashion.
reviewed Kafka on the Shore on + 33 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Excellent if strange.
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reviewed Kafka on the Shore on
quirky and imaginative. it's magical realism from japan.
reviewed Kafka on the Shore on + 1423 more book reviews
Murakami offers a fascinating read about a young man, Kafka, who leaves home at age 15 and an older man, Nakata, whose life is as simple as he is. The story is strange at times but the author connects most incidents with what I believe are alternate universes to explain these unusual events.

The book opens as a group of Japanese school children embark on an outing to collect mushrooms. Suddenly all collapse leaving only the teacher standing. Nothing is unusual unless you consider the overhead flight of a plane. All but one child soon recovers. He is Nakata, once a most intelligent student, now an aging man who talks to cats, lives on a government subsidy, small sums from a brother and what he earns locating lost cats.

It is years after the collapse that Kafka leaves home possibly seeking his long missing mother and sister, and abandoning a mostly absent father. Follow the adventures of Kafka and Nakata to discover what happens as their lives merge and strange events unfold. A ghostly pimp employs a philosophically quoting student who provides sexual favors, soldiers from WWII who have not aged appear, and strange items such as fish fall from the sky. A brutal murder, probably of Kafka's father, seems to have been committed by Nakata. At the same time Kafka awakes with a bloody t-shirt and fears he may have done something he cannot remember,

The reader is led carefully along their experiences as the author ties it all together rather skillfully. It's a read I found myself hurrying through to discover what happens next. Yes, I rather liked this book.

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