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Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
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Kafka on the Shore (original 2002; edition 2006)

by Haruki Murakami

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11,580286233 (4.09)664
Member:-Cee-
Title:Kafka on the Shore
Authors:Haruki Murakami
Info:Vintage (2006), Paperback, 480 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:Christmas Swap from Caro, Japan, Magical realism

Work details

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (2002)

Recently added byspencerlucas, strongasanoak, jounike, private library, AsACC_UConn, ekmalkki, dulcinea14
  1. 90
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  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)
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    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!
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  7. 38
    Life of Pi by Yann Martel (tandah)
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Showing 1-5 of 235 (next | show all)
This book is extremely weird, often quite pretentious, and there is way too much sex and violence. Still, it touches something profound, something unsayable. ( )
  wester | Aug 31, 2014 |
Nearly 4 stars. I really enjoyed it but I'm not sure whether I can recommend it. Very well crafted and I didn't get bored at all - but I think it only works because the writing is so good, I'm still a bit ambivalent about the substance. However I'm definitely going to read his latest IQ84 so I guess I should probably have gone for 4 stars...... ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jun 17, 2014 |
This will be a partial review, just a comment on one aspect of reading that comes out for me when I read Murakami and certain other writers. That aspect or quality or possibility is shared by Murakami and several writers that Tim Parks has proposed do their writing with an eye to its translation into English. (For references see tinyurl.com/p4f6kjp) What he means is that they write intentionally simple sentences, avoiding modernist experiments with language (as in Joyce or Schmidt) and avoiding too many local references that would require special explanation. Parks's interest is the homogenization of the novel, and that interests me too: but I mention it here because such novels also bring out a property that may be overlooked in criticism.

When the writing is stripped down to a useful leanness, what emerges, for me, is a growing awareness of the author's desire to tell a story. I could say "the author's desire to simply tell a story," or "an awareness simply of the author's desire to tell a story": what I mean is that I find myself thinking about Murakami's desire -- often, I think, a guiding and even overwhelming desire -- to keep the reader's attention at all costs. When I am aware of that, I'm also suspicious that Murakami doesn't particularly care what his story is about. To some degree that's endemic of Murakami, and it's one of the reasons I don't like him and don't read him much. (My notes on "Sputnik Sweetheart" on this site explain all that.)

There were a number of points in this book -- some sustained over a hundred pages of more -- when the main expressive interest of the novel was precisely Murakami's desire not to lose my attention. The book came to be about him, his work and fame as an author, and nothing in particular that he had to say. As the book goes on -- up to the crux, where the "stone" is discovered -- the subjects and themes become more engrossing, and apparently more important to Murakami. But overall, what I feel when I read him is his desire for my attention, and I resist it more and more as I read, and I add that resistance to my other objections to his work.

The homogenization of the global novel as it appears in Murakami (Parks's theme), Murakami's continuously energetic ambition to capture my interest (which I think is connected to Parks's theme), and the third-generation surrealism and conventional storytelling, are all reasons I won't be reading any more Murakami. ( )
  JimElkins | Jun 13, 2014 |
Another great book by Murakami, both a real page-turner and an intense, bizarre metaphysical mind-screw.
As Murakami recommends, this book is worth reading more than once. ( )
  xuebi | May 30, 2014 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 235 (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.
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"... 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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