Editor reviews

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. —Collin Kelley
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Summary

Kafka on the Shore follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at 15, under the shadow of his father's dark prophesy. The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his pleasantly simplified life suddenly turned upside down. Their parallel odysseys are enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerising dramas. Cats converse with people; fish tumble from the sky; a ghostlike pimp deploys a Hegel-spouting girl of the night; a forest harbours soldiers apparently un-aged since WWII. There is a savage killing, but the identity of both victim and killer is a riddle. Murakami's new novel is at once a classic tale of quest, but it is also a bold exploration of mythic and contemporary taboos, of patricide, of mother-love, of sister-love. Above all it is an entertainment of a very high order.
©2005 Haruki Murakami (P)2005 Naxos Audiobooks
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Critic reviews

"I've never read a novel that I found so compelling because of its narrative inventiveness and love of storytelling....Great entertainment." ( Guardian)
"An insistently metaphysical mind-bender." ( The New Yorker)
"Daringly original and compulsively readable." ( The Washington Post's Book World)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Clare on 24-07-08

A new dimension of fiction and sleep

I always find it hard deciding which titles to make my next listen as I like the idea of listening to something relatively unknown to me. This time I decided to search by Narrator as I tend to get quite attached to them given that they are always the last voice I hear in my ear before drifting off to sleep each night.

I?d recently listened to Troubles by J.G Farrell, superbly narrated by Sean Barrett so it was him that led me to Kafka on the Shore and what a treat it is. I love this book, it?s like entering a whole new world of fiction. It?s like going on a wonderful mysterious journey and having absolutely no idea what?s around the next corner. There's no formula here, no expected outcomes. I was worried before I started that it may be a bit too off par for me, but maybe its the way its written or narrated I?m not sure, but somehow Haruki Murakami makes some very unusual events such as a man capable of talking to cats seem completely acceptable and not at all distracting.

The only problem (if you can call it a problem) with this book is that it does have quite a soothing effect and is somewhat dreamlike so it may take you longer than you?d hoped to finish it but you?ll have plenty of good sleep in the process!

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45 of 47 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Stephen on 18-07-10

Simply wonderful.

I can honestly say I was absolutely bowled over by this book. I had never read any Murakami before and this came as an utter delight and surprise. It is an extraordinary mix of all sorts of genres, but is ultimately nothing like anything else I have read. It is intellectually and emotionally thoroughly satisfying, ad well as having a totally gripping plot. The two readers are wonderful, and I suspect this is even better to listen to, than to read on the page. I envy anyone who has not read this book, because the journey ahead of you is truly wonderful.

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22 of 23 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Mel on 09-05-12

Brilliant Meandering--what was in those brownies..

In Haruki Murakami's own words:
"It's all pointless--assuming you try to find a point to it." Kafka on the Shore
"It's not that meaning cannot be explained. But there are certain meanings that are lost forever the moment they are explained in words." 1Q84

I read this book last year, my first HM read, which I jumped into with no knowledge of the author, and having read no reviews of the book at all. Since then I have read several of Murakami books, and not because I am an enthusiastic fan at all--I actually found myself a little disturbed by Kafka on the Shore. I was bothered by the wierd sexuality, the blurry boundaries and constructs, the pointless ramblings, the silliness I thought bordered on insult to the reader. I read interviews Murakami had done, I read about his background, I read very dissected critiques by scholars of Murakami books, and still held on to a bit of repulsion towards Murakami's books. But...I kept reading his books! I was drawn to them; they haunted me, they stayed with me, persistently colored my mind.

When 1Q84 was released, I bought it impulsively,then wondered why. I realized that Murakami writes for the reader; I understood that what brought me back time and time again to HM was the fact that somewhere in me, I knew that in HM's books I was in the presence of genius. I could read/listen to HM and drift through a dream, like closing my eyes and floating on a raft in the pool, I didn't need to make sense of the journey--I just enjoyed it.

I relate this only to try to explain the experience I had with Kafka on the Shore, It was in many ways magical and lasting. I'm not sure I loved it, but it captured me. I could compare it to the other books of his but I will not because it has been done--I will leave you with my experience and say that Murakami, like any author, is not for everyone--just like Beethoven or Mozart are not for everyone--but their genius cannot be argued. I am looking forward to listening to 1Q84--just picking the right time to be consummed. If you are compelled to find meaning in every event, to right each word with your own understanding, read again the top 2 quotes by Murakami...you may "find" something that isn't even really there at all.

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37 of 37 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Steve on 20-08-07

Passionate!

This story is wonderfully hypnotic and romantic and beautiful.
I was hesitant to download it at first, as I knew nothing of Murakami and modern Japanese fiction, but it surpassed all of my expectations and I was pleased to find that it transcended all political and cultural boundaries.
The narration is exceptional - esp. Oliver Le Sueur's Kafka - and the story was surprisingly Western in feel, and universal in its themes.

This story may not be for everyone, but for those who wish to venture outside the norm - and into a world of timeless love and gothic, romantic, tragedy - you could not do much better than this.

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26 of 26 people found this review helpful

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