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Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Kafka on the Shore (original 2002; edition 2005)

by Haruki Murakami

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11,354None241 (4.09)634
Title:Kafka on the Shore
Authors:Haruki Murakami
Info:Vintage (2005), Paperback
Collections:Your library, To read (inactive)
Tags:Japanese Literature, Fiction, Vintage, Private Collection, TBR

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Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (2002)

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  1. 80
    The Master and Margarita by Mihail Bulgakov (LottaBerling)
  2. 20
    Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (GaryN1981)
    GaryN1981: Rushdie is one of the masters of magic realism and anyone who appreciates the way Murakami weaves almost impenetrable surrealism into Kafka... will love Midnights Children
  3. 31
    1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (Kordo)
  4. 00
    The Infinities by John Banville (librorumamans)
    librorumamans: Like Kafka on the Shore, Infinities plays with multiple points of view, alternate realities, and riffs on other works (in this case Kleist's Amphitryon). Both Murakami and Banville tackle big ideas directly and indirectly through the structures of their books. Banville, in my opinion, pulls this off more coherently.… (more)
  5. 00
    Anathema Rhodes: Dreams by Iimani David (Mary_Z)
    Mary_Z: I enjoyed both these books for their mysticism and freshness. "Anathema Rhodes" has more challenges and is clearly more socially and politically conscious, but the feel and flow of the story reminds me of Murakami's "Kafka...". I sincerely recommend both!
  6. 01
    Cereus Blooms at Night by Shani Mootoo (LottaBerling)
  7. 38
    Life of Pi by Yann Martel (tandah)

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» See also 634 mentions

English (234)  French (10)  Dutch (9)  Spanish (7)  Danish (5)  Catalan (4)  Italian (3)  Swedish (2)  Finnish (2)  German (2)  Norwegian (1)  Hungarian (1)  Estonian (1)  Polish (1)  All languages (282)
Showing 1-5 of 234 (next | show all)
Murakami and I have a history. His books were read less for interest than for a weird feeling of 'worthiness' (aka giant crush of mine at the time loved the guy), which soon turned to a puzzling at the weirdness already inherent. Puzzlement led to questioning, my library website led me to Goodreads, and I cannot say if I would be here without Norwegian Wood having wafted me along to some semblance of understanding. However, auspicious circumstances did not include auspicious receptions, and I left Murakami at three for three (stars) three years and counting hence, where he'd still likely be if he wasn't so effing popular.

Someone out there may be disagreeing with me, but when you hang out for as long as I have in the middling less than 1,000 ratings stacks, anything with healthy tens of thousands for more than five works is of monstrous proportions. Maybe the raving is clear to someone else, but even all the hipsters banding together the world over can't account for this pumping up of a surreal Japanese author with Eurocentric taste and atrocious abilities in erotica, especially on a site based in the US. Or maybe it can, and the population of said label has been bounding upwards faster than I thought possible. Or it's not just the hipsters. Hm.

Going back to the previous category of readerly folk, how would I feel about that, if that were true? About the same as I feel about this book: interested, ticked off, and begrudgingly accepting only due to not being able to parse it as vivisectionally as I'd like. Ticked off states include misogyny, awkward name dropping, and flinging around that 'undefinable' state of authorial description to a suspiciously conscientiously evading blame extent, but. I can't get my finger on any of it, what with the rate of world turning dream turning every clear intent on its head. If I could, I'd be able to distract myself from all the piquancies that bloated up that up there rating to a healthy four, so congrats, Murakami, if that was your game.

Except, who knows. I could be plastering my own abiding fixation on World War II all over the delicious hinting at violence, free will, and morality (dramaturgy's my new word of the day), but then again. I could reject the fascinatingly myriad complexities of character development due to awkwardness and lack of direction, but the jerks are possibly balanced out by the hazy sense of truth. I could sniff at the extended referencing that never quite colluded with the rest of the narrative flow, but whether that seeming obviousness was due to lack of skill or the overarching rudderless of tone is impossible to say. Then throw in the fact that this is a translation into the mix, and you have yourself a 'What? Uh. Sure? No. But. Agh.' of a time.

What I know for sure is that I like cats, and libraries, and thinking talk, and most of all being engaged at every moment, for better or for worse. Even during the sex scenes, which, Murakami, for the love of everything worthwhile, I really hope you don't think the world of that particular aspect of your writing. Keep to all that other stuff about redemption and humanity and life and the joys of coffee shops, and we'll be okay.

P.S. I know that it's April Fools Day. This is not a joke. This book fucked with my head enough as it is. ( )
  Korrick | Apr 7, 2014 |
I REALLY enjoyed this book! It is a page-turner, and very enjoyable.
Yet, at many times, he wrote about repulsive things (I will not elaborate on that and spoil it for anyone). I did many OMG and Eww faces while reading this. It's written beautifully, it's fantastical yet enjoyable, I never knew i could enjoy such anime-like readings.
Some things were pretty exaggerated in the character of Kafka, but it serves the story. I've been struggling between giving this a 3 or a 4 stars rating, it falls somewhere between, 3.5 stars maybe. ( )
  pathogenik | Mar 2, 2014 |
لا اعلم عندما انتهيت من الروايه كنت اشعر وكانى منت​شيه كوكو الضعيف واهلوس هلوسات حقيقه............لا ​اعلم هذا الرجل حيرنى وجعلنى افكر كثيرااا​
عندما هرب كافكا من منزله لم اعلم ماصلته بناكاتا او​ حادثه الاطفال على الجيل اوصائد القطط​

لكن هاروكى مارواكى قام بحياكتها وحبكتها بطريقه رائ​عه لاتستطيع التبوء بما سيحدث لاحقا.... وكانها كقضي​
كم اثر فى مشهد قتل ناكاتا لصائد القطط احسست ان الد​
كم من المقزز ان يااكل قلب القطط كانها علكه رجل مقز​

الانسه ساييكى علمت انها امه لكن ثاورنى الشك بانها ​ليست كذلك بسبب تصرفتها مع كافكا​
موتها وموت ناكاتكا محزن جدااااااا​
اثر فى طيبه ناكاتا وكم احزننى عندما صفعته المعلمه ​
لالكاتب والمترجم ابدعوا جعلونى كانى اعيش معهم اشعر​
لا اعلم روايه غير قابله للوصف فقط​
  Yara.Eisa | Feb 27, 2014 |
This is such a captivating story of a 15-year-old boy going by the alias Kafka (Crow) Tamura who runs away from his father’s house. There are two parallel stories, and the hope is to see where and how they will intersect. I love the part when Mr. Nakata talks to cats. I wonder why the author has another lost cat in his book again. I know this is the Japanese version of Oedipus Rex, but I didn’t like the parts where Kafka thought he was having sex with his mother and sister. I love the cameos of Johnny Walker (Red) and Colonel Sanders in this book. I reminds me of when cartoonist Steve Pastis borrows characters from other comic strips to put in his “Pearls Before Swine”. There is so much symbolism in Kafka on the Shore that it’s hard to read this story without being drawn into trying to interpret it. It’s a beautiful read if one just flows with the story and lets the emotional part of it grab you. ( )
  SqueakyChu | Feb 21, 2014 |
Haruki Murakami is an international best-selling author and one of the most recognizable Japanese novelists currently writing worldwide. Therefore, I find it somewhat surprising that I actually haven't read much of his work. Before picking up Kafka on the Shore I had only read two of his books--1Q84 and Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche--in addition to a small selection of essays and interviews. 1Q84 was my introduction to Murakami; it was both an incredibly frustrating and invigorating experience. I loved parts of the novel but strongly disliked others. 1Q84 probably wasn't the best place to start reading Murakami, and so I've been meaning to give another one of his novels a try. I settled on Kafka on the Shore, originally published in Japan in 2002, for several reasons. It's one of Murakami's best-known works. Philip Gabriel's 2005 English translation won the World Fantasy Award. The novel's young protagonist basically runs away to a library. But mostly, I wanted to read Kafka on the Shore for the sake of one character, Oshima, with whom I happen to share quite a bit in common.

Fifteen-year-old Kafka Tamura, though that's not his real name, has just run away from home. He leaves behind his father in Tokyo just as his mother and sister left the two of them behind more than a decade ago. Kafka's plan is simple--travel to a faraway town and make a place for himself in a library. That's how he finds himself in Takamatsu, over four hundred miles away from the home, father, and life that he wants to escape. There he seeks out the privately owned Komura Memorial Library where meets Oshima, an assistant at the library who takes Kafka under his wing. Meanwhile, strange events are unfolding around Kafka and the people in his life. Back in Tokyo, a man by the name of Nakata with the ability to talk to cats finds himself pulled into Kafka's story. Though the two have never met they share a strange connection with each other that neither of them are entirely aware of or expected.

The chapters in Kafka on the Shore alternate between Kafka and Nakata's individual journeys. Kafka's chapters are written in first-person present, giving them a very intimate and immediate perspective, while Nakata's are written in third-person past, creating more distance. At first the two stories seem to be completely unrelated, but as Kafka on the Shore develops the tales steadily draw towards one another and connect in shocking ways. Kafka and Nakata's paths never directly cross but they do influence each other and those of the people around them. Ideas, concepts, and turns of phrase, not to mention actions and their consequences, echo throughout the novel, tying seemingly disparate events together into a cohesive whole. There is a lot of loneliness in Kafka on the Shore. The characters are searching and reaching out for these sorts of connections and relationships, both consciously and subconsciously. They are individuals yearning to find what is missing from themselves and from their lives, often disregarding time and reality in the process.

Much as with 1Q84, there were parts of Kafka on the Shore that I adored and other parts that I found immensely frustrating. In general, I preferred the earlier novel over its later developments. For me, Kafka on the Shore worked best when it was more firmly grounded in reality with hints of the unexplainable, mysterious, and strange rather than the other way around. As the novel progresses it becomes more confusing and dreamlike. That in and of itself isn't problematic, but towards the end of Kafka on the Shore Murakami begins introducing bizarre elements seemingly out of nowhere that do very little to develop the plot or the characters. Readers looking for closure from Kafka on the Shore may be disappointed as there are plenty of threads left unresolved by the time the novel reaches its conclusion. Despite my frustrations with Kafka on the Shore I am glad that I read the novel. I appreciated the importance giving to books and the influence of music; I found the characters intriguing; and although the story goes a little off the rails, I liked Kafka's peculiar journey of discovery and coming of age.

Experiments in Manga ( )
  PhoenixTerran | Jan 31, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 234 (next | show all)
The weird, stately urgency of Murakami's novels comes from their preoccupation with . . . internal problems; you can imagine each as a drama acted out within a single psyche. In each, a self lies in pieces and must be put back together; a life that is stalled must be kick-started and relaunched into the bruising but necessary process of change. Reconciling us to that necessity is something stories have done for humanity since time immemorial. Dreams do it, too. But while anyone can tell a story that resembles a dream, it's the rare artist, like this one, who can make us feel that we are dreaming it ourselves.

» Add other authors (50 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Haruki Murakamiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gabriel, PhilipTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gräfe, UrsulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Westerhoven, JacquesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"So you're all set for money, then?" the boy named Crow asks in his characteristic sluggish voice.
"... in everybody's life there's a point of no return. And in a very few cases, a point where you can't go forward anymore. And when we reach that point, all we can do is quietly accept the fact. That's how we survive."
"Listening to Fournier's flowing, dignified cello, Honshino was drawn back to his childhood. He used to go to the river everyday to catch fish. Nothing to worry about back then. he reminisced. Just live each day as it came. As long as I was alive, I was something. That was just how it was. But somewhere along the line it all changed. Living turned me into nothing. Weird...People are born in order to live, right? But the longer I've lived, the more I've lost what's inside me–and ended up empty. And I bet the longer I live, the emptier, the more worthless, I'll become. Something's wrong with this picture. Life isn't supposed to turn out like this! Isn't it possible to shift direction, to change where I'm headed?"
The air was damp and stagnant, with a hint of something suspicious, as if countless ears were floating in the air, waiting to pick up a trace of some conspiracy.
I'd never imagined that trees could be so weird and unearthly. I mean, the only plants I've ever really seen or touched till now are the city kind--neatly trimmed and cared-for bushes and trees. But the ones here--the ones living here--are totally different. They have a physical power, their breath grazing any humans who might chance by, their gaze zeroing in on the intruder like they've spotted their prey. Like they have some dark, prehistroric, magical powers. Like deep-sea creatures rule the ocean depths, in the forest trees reign supreme. If it wanted to, the forest could reject me--or swallow me up whole. A healthy amount of fear and respect might be a good idea.
There's only one kind of happiness, but misfortune comes in all shapes and sizes.
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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 riddle-yet 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.… (more)

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