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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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11,952303216 (4.08)722
Title:Kafka on the Shore
Authors:Haruki Murakami
Info:Knopf (2005), Paperback, 615 sivua
Collections:Your library
Tags:Haruki Murakami, lost cats, magical, addictive, vivid storytelling

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Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (2002)

Recently added byJCRin, kazikas, scottd, private library, mkclane, Andreas_Lindholm, AmaroqDeQuebrazas, peterpetcarp
Legacy LibrariesLeslie Scalapino
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    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
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    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)
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    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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Showing 1-5 of 252 (next | show all)
I was so intimidated to read this author. For years I've seen people recommend his books, but I never took the plunge. Murakami has such a strange reputation and it's definitely not unwarranted. In Kafka on the Shore we have fish are falling from the sky, cats that talk, a pimp named Colonel Sanders, and a Oedipal curse. Throw in a bit of Picnic at Hanging Rock, Stargate, and a dozen other odd pop culture elements and you've got the novel. But at the same time it's about philosophy and literature and finding your identity.

It's a weird book but it's not hard to follow. There are two main plots that eventually wind together. One follows a 15-year-old boy who has run away from home and renamed himself Kafka. The other follows an older man, Nakata, who is unable to read or write after an accident in his youth.

Kafka ends up at a small private library in Takamatsu run by the aloof Miss Saeki and Oshima, both of whom have their own secrets. Nakata hitchhikes with a truck driver named Hoshino. I actually enjoyed Nakata’s sections more, though I can’t put my finger on exactly why.

The book doesn’t follow a normal arch of a novel and many things are left undetermined by the end. I was surprised that this didn’t bother me more. The strange thing about this book is that I didn’t feel like I needed to understand the “Why” behind everything that happened. It was just enough “out there” stuff that I could just accept it and go along for a ride. I don't think this book would work well if you did focus on knowing every detail and having an explanation.

BOTTOM LINE: If you've never tried Murakami, this is a fascinating one to start with. It's strange, but in a wonderful way. He's not my new favorite author, but I am curious to read another of his books and see how it compares.

“There’s only one kind of happiness, but misfortune comes in all shapes and sizes.”

“Reality is just the accumulation of ominous prophecies come to life. You have only to open a newspaper on any given day.” ( )
  bookworm12 | Jul 30, 2015 |
Definitely one of my favorites from Murakami. His style of writing in this book is similar to Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I guess at the end, I was expecting a little more than what I actually got. Mysteries build up, and in my mind, I expect a grand solution to these mysteries. But instead, they turn out a lot more mundane than expected. Upon thinking about it, however, all the questions that I had sort of were answered...I just had to think about it a bit.

The themes in this book are perpetuated in his other works as well. There is the constant reference to the time. In this sense, it is unclear whether the two stories occuring are happening at the same time. But little references here and there make it eventually clear to the reader. I also loved the multiple references to other pieces of literature. I feel like I learnt a little bit of Greek myths, a short biography of Beethoven, and a short history lesson of WWII. Probably the most obvious reference is that to Oedipus Rex, though Murakami takes the tale a little bit farther than where the original left off.

Definitely a reccommendation. ( )
  jms001 | Jun 14, 2015 |

kafka on the shore ended up being a really really great read. it’s surreal as hell—starts off as a rather normal story about a young boy running away and soon there’s all sorts of hallucinations (traveling spirits? parallel universes? altered realites?) dominating the story, the plot operating on both the tangible, normal universe and a fictional, surreal paradise. makes you wonder what’s real, to question the assumption that our reality has to be grounded in everyone else’s. “the world is a metaphor,” says one of the characters in the closing pages, and it’s true. our lives, our thoughts arent grounded solely in the atoms that surround us; they are composed and dominated by what we make of it, the realities that we construct. there’s a space, right at the edge of the earth, which we can take for our consciousness, where this all comes together. it’s a space where you reach self-realization, where you no longer passionately try to stop time and live in your small, static fantasy. but to access it, to reach to the proverbial depth of the forest, you need to give yourself up to it. no reservations. no defenses. just lose it. but once you’re there, boy……
( )
  Proustitutes | Jun 11, 2015 |
What do you think I am, one of those magical raccoons? (340) ( )
  JennyArch | May 22, 2015 |
Kafka on the Shore tells the story of a fifteen year old book named Kafka who runs away from home to find his mother and sister. Although the alternate chapters tell the story of Nakata; a strange old man who has the ability to talk to cats. Like many of Haruki Murakami’s books, Kafka on the Shore blends pop culture with magical realism in order to explore the psyche of the characters involved.

It is often hard to try and give an overview of a Murakami book because they tend to come out weird and I do not want to give the impression that his novels are not worth attempting. For Kafka on the Shore, the magical realism allows the reader to explore the psychological mind of fifteen year old Kafka Tamune. Not only is Kakfa a young man discovering his sexuality, Sigmund Freud would probably suggest that he also has an Oedipus complex and has developed an unhealthy obsession with his mother and sister.

According to Freud, an Oedipus complex stems from the unconscious mind and normally caused by the repression of a mother (or father) figure. Freudian psychoanalysis theory suggests that this is a key psychological experience needed for normal sexual development. However if it is unsuccessful at resolving it may lead to neurosis, paedophilia, or homosexuality. Without going into the problematic thinking of Sigmund Freud, this does make for an interesting analysis of Kafka’s journey throughout the book, especially with his interactions between Sakura and Miss Saeki.

If we continue looking at this novel through the lens of psychoanalysis theory, we might even get some interesting insights into Nakata. I always thought the loss of mental faculties was due to the psychological trauma, he experienced as a young boy. He was one of sixteen schoolchildren picking mushrooms in a field trip towards the end of World War II, when they were all rendered unconscious from a mysterious light in the sky. However it has also been suggested that maybe Kafka and Nakata are two different parts of the same person.

Every time I read a Haruki Murakami, I am reminded of his brilliance (with the exception of 1Q84), and I want to explore more of his works. I am also reminded that I need to learn a whole lot more about psychoanalytical theories, and how much it would help with books like Kafka on the Shore. For me this was a bildungsroman book about sexual development and memories. However, I found myself more interested in the chapters centred on Kafka over those about Nakata but maybe that was because I understood them a little better.

Yet again Haruki Murakami has impressed me with Kafka on the Shore and I am eager to pick up more of his books. I know magical realism can be scary for some people but I love the way Murakami uses it to explore the mind. My only real criticism of this book is that it was a little bloated and could have been trimmed down a little and still achieve the same. This might be due to an aversion to big books that I really need to overcome and not a true reflection on Murakami. I highly recommend giving this author a go if you have never tried him but Kafka on the Shore is not a good starting point; may I suggest trying Norwegian Wood first.

This review originally appeared on my blog; http://literary-exploration.com/2015/04/29/kafka-on-the-shore-by-haruki-murakami... ( )
  knowledge_lost | Apr 29, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 252 (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.
Maar net zoals in de rest van Murakami’s omvangrijke oeuvre blijft het niet bij het wegloop-realisme van de hoofdpersoon. Onverklaarbare wendingen, bovennatuurlijke verschijnselen, irreële toevalligheden en onwaarschijnlijke personages roepen bij de nuchtere lezer al snel de vraag op waarom hij in godsnaam maar blijft dóórlezen.
Kafka Tamura se va de casa el día en que cumple quince años. La razón, si es que la hay, son las malas relaciones con su padre, un escultor famoso convencido de que su hijo habrá de repetir el aciago sino del Edipo de la tragedia clásica, y la sensación de vacío producida por la ausencia de su madre y su hermana, a quienes apenas recuerda porque también se marcharon de casa cuando era muy pequeño. El azar, o el destino, le llevarán al sur del país, a Takamatsu, donde encontrará refugio en una peculiar biblioteca y conocerá a una misteriosa mujer mayor, tan mayor que podría ser su madre, llamada Saeki. Si sobre la vida de Kafka se cierne la tragedia –en el sentido clásico–, sobre la de Satoru Nakata ya se ha abatido –en el sentido real–: de niño, durante la segunda guerra mundial, sufrió un extraño accidente que lo marcaría de por vida. En una excursión escolar por el bosque, él y sus compañeros cayeron en coma; pero sólo Nakata salió con secuelas, sumido en una especie de olvido de sí, con dificultades para expresarse y comunicarse... salvo con los gatos. A los sesenta años, pobre y solitario, abandona Tokio tras un oscuro incidente y emprende un viaje que le llevará a la biblioteca de Takamatsu. Vidas y destinos se van entretejiendo en un curso inexorable que no atiende a razones ni voluntades. Pero a veces hasta los oráculos se equivocan.
”Et stort verk, men likevel lekende lett lesning.”

» 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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