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 new novel has a similarly extraordinary scope and the same capacity to amaze, entertain, and bewitch the reader. 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 riddleyet 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.
I thought this was a marvelous novel, although I'm not sure that I entirely understood it. The upside is that I'm not the only one, it seems that even Murakami had trouble understanding it! As he says, "This may sound self-serving, but it's true. I know people are busy and it depends, too, on whether they feel like doing it, but if you have the time, I suggest reading the novel more than once. Things should be clearer the second time around. I've read it, of course, dozens of times as I rewrote it, and each time I did, slowly but surely the whole started to come into sharper focus." (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
The Washington Post's Book World - Steven Moore
Murakami's spin on this theme* and the Oedipus myth is daringly original and compulsively readable, enabled by Philip Gabriel's wonderfully fluent translation. Kafka on the Shore is warmly recommended.
(*That each soul is looking for its other half/soul mate)
Library Journal - Shirley N Quan
Parts of Murakami's story are violently gruesome and sexually explicit, and the plot line following Nakata is rather eerie and disturbing. Yet the bulk of this narrative is erudite, lyrical, and compelling; followers of Murakami's work should approve.
Booklist - Allison Block
Replete with riddles, exhaustingly eccentric characters (a pimp dressed as Colonel Sanders, a Hegel-quoting whore), and imagery ranging from the sublime to the grotesque, Murakami's literary high-wire acts have earned him both boos and ahs from connoisseurs of contemporary fiction. What side you come down on depends on your predilection for the perverse.
Murakami is of course himself an immensely reader-friendly novelist, and never has he offered more enticing fare than this enchantingly inventive tale. A masterpiece, entirely Nobel-worthy.
Starred Review. Occasionally, the writing drifts too far into metaphysical musings—mind-bending talk of parallel worlds, events occurring outside of time—and things swirl a bit at the end as the author tries, perhaps too hard, to make sense of things. But by this point, his readers, like his characters, will go just about anywhere Murakami wants them to, whether they get it or not.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by EG Loved it I don't know how, but Haruki Murakami reminds me Paul Auster. They have the same warm expressions in their words.
I've read Kafka on the Shore with Philiph Gabriel's translation (vintage 2005). I loved it. Kafka Tamura seemed older than fifteen... Read More
Rated of 5
by Katrina Wong A stunning novel Kafka on the Shore is Murakami’s best novel yet, outshining The Wind Up Bird Chronicle and Hard Boiled Wonderland[...] by combining an intriguing, page-turning storyline with absurdly profound metaphysical and postmodern philosophy. The... Read More
Rated of 5
by Judy Magical surrealism 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.... Read More
Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and graduated from the Waseda University,
Tokyo, in 1975. He and his wife lived in Europe and the United States from 1986
to 1995 before returning to Tokyo. He did not write his first
novel, Hear the Wind Sing (1979, translated 1987) until he was in his
thirties. His major breakthrough came in 1987 with the publication of
Norwegian Wood - a coming of age story named after the Beatles' song, which is
somewhat different to his other books in that it is written in a realistic
style, whereas his other books all have strong fantasy
In addition to writing his own books in Japanese, Murakami is a
skillful translator of English works into Japanese, including books
by Scott Fitzgerald,
Raymond Carver, John Irving and Paul Theroux.
The Trilogy of the Rat: Hear the Wind Sing, 1979, Pinball,
A Wild Sheep Chase, 1982
The Hard-boiled Wonderland and End of the World, 1985
Research shows that 90% of Americans value public libraries(Dec 11 2013) According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, about 90% of Americans aged 16 and older said that the closing of their local public library would have an...