Rated of 5
I don't know if magical surrealism is a genre but that's what I would call Kafka on the Shore. It is surreal in that things happen in parallel worlds and dream worlds that are just as real or more so than things that happen in the "real" world. Events are fantastic, mysterious, even mystical at times. But the magical part is that the two main characters navigate this fantastic landscape in ways that are original, true to themselves, and completely transparent to other characters (some pretty wild ones!) and to us. The lives of the two main characters are intertwined, though they never meet. Kafka, an intense teenage runaway encouraged by an alter ego, "a boy named Crow," to go out on his own, and Nakata, a humble damaged older man who seems "simple" but who has great powers, became so endearing and fascinating that I could hardly wait to see what happened next.
I loved this book, I admit partly because Kafka lives for a time in a library and Nakata can converse with cats! I listened to it on CD because I have a long trip to and from work. It is superbly narrated. There will be many more Haruki Murokami books in my future!