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Kafka on the Shore (2002)

by Haruki Murakami

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
15,666427259 (4.06)1 / 995
A tour-de-force of metaphysical reality, Kafka on the Shore is powered by two remarkable characters. At fifteen, Kafka Tamura runs away from home, either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister. And the aging Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction, finds his highly simplified life suddenly upset. Their odyssey, as mysterious to us as it is to them, 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 fall from the sky. There is a brutal murder, with the identity of both victim and perpetrator a riddle. Yet this, like 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.… (more)
  1. 131
    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (LottaBerling)
  2. 50
    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. 51
    1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (PaulBerauer)
  4. 20
    A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami (koenvanq)
  5. 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)
  6. 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!
  7. 00
    Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr by John Crowley (somethingauthentic)
  8. 02
    Cereus Blooms at Night by Shani Mootoo (LottaBerling)
  9. 38
    Life of Pi by Yann Martel (tandah)
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English (362)  French (15)  Dutch (13)  Spanish (9)  Danish (5)  Italian (4)  Catalan (4)  Finnish (3)  Swedish (2)  German (2)  Norwegian (2)  Hungarian (1)  Polish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Estonian (1)  All languages (425)
Showing 1-5 of 362 (next | show all)
The opening paragraph of the NYT Sunday Book Review of Kafka on the Shore ends, "the undercurrent is nearly irresistible, and readers emerge several hundred pages later as if from a trance, convinced they've made contact with something significant, if not entirely sure what that something is." I don't think I could say it better. But I have to say that I emerged from that trance feeling strangely empty as well, as if, like Nakata and Miss Saeki, I have only half a shadow now.

Like A Wild Sheep Chase, Kafka on the Shore alternated between being a compelling page turner of surreal and fascinating wackiness and dream-like philosophizing that induces existential ennui. I guess I'll keep reading Murakami because I still want to figure out what he's trying to say and how he manages to pull off such a contrast in tone.

I just wish someone had warned me about the chapter with Johnny Walker... I would probably have picked a different Murakami novel to indulge my curiousity.
( )
  Charon07 | Jul 16, 2021 |
This book was weird and wonderful. Interesting Japanese cultural references were mixed in with talking cats and fish falling from the sky. It was a mystery of sorts, but far from my usual mystery book. It's hard to describe, but I finished it in three days so it's fair to say I liked it. ( )
  MysteryTea | Jun 14, 2021 |

TW:
rape
animal cruelty/slaughter
murder (patricide)
incest (x2) XD
self harm

What I liked:
Hoshino (comic relief and the hero of the book, imo)
Oshima
Nakata

I'm more of a character based reader (whatever that means) so I did like this book even though it's all over the place.
There are a lot in this book that's really uncomfortable to read.
I also feel like there are a lot of fillers. I don't mind it much, but I would've preferred if all those words used on Beethoven had been used to end the story better. (I kinda hate ambiguous endings.)

3.75 stars


( )
  blithelii_ | May 29, 2021 |
Genre: Fantasy, Magic Realism
No. of Reads: 1
Verdict: Confused as to whether I should read the book again( going by the Murakami's suggestion) or discard it as too much noise.
Pros :
1. Amazing literary journey. You feel like you are floating across a world created by Murakami. This world though mirrors world as we know it yet has its own set of rules and regulations that makes it way different than the one we live in. This creation is the USP of the book.
2. Lovable characters. I wholly enjoyed the innocence of Nakata and the teenage angst of Kafka. The growth of Koshino is my highlight of this book. Oshima and his ideologies and the carefree nature of Sakura also added its own unique flavour to the book. Miss Saeki though remained shrouded in her own mystery.

Cons :
1. The plot seemed to be pre-ordained. The characters seem to be mere puppets of the entire plot and this marred my experience with the book.
2. The writer didn't seem to indulge in any of the plots or subplots. The entire book seemed to be a tip of the iceberg, half divulged plots, half mature subplots. This irked me a lot as I like novels which are atomic, which explains everything it sets to portrays and develops its plots and subplots.
3. The angle between Miss Saeki and Kafka Tamura was unpalatable to me. Not cause of what happened between them but because it was not explained or justified. It seemed very forced, unnatural , preterm.

It is always difficult to dislike a hugely famous book. It questions your skill and you really want to see the beauty that thousands of fellow readers have seen. Murakami's Kafka on the Shore was the perfect example of this dilemma. I am aware that my review is highly biased but that is what reviews are supposed to be. Reviews are supposed to be your reaction to the truth.

For me, I m not going to waste my energy on Murakami's this creation again. It is a pleasant read, especially the imagination, but failed to touch my soul.
( )
  __echo__ | May 11, 2021 |
I have a new favorite Murakami! For years it was Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (which remains wonderful) but I think Kafka is the platonic ideal of the Murakami novel. It has all the themes he likes to visit rolled out in service of a clear(ish) narrative plot, which is not always to be found in his work. I don't find I miss the plot when I read Murakami, but in this book I saw a hazy one and it was kind of nice (the constancy, inescapability, and malleability of the Oedipal curse and the question of whether we are bound by history and genetics to be as evil as our fathers -- this as a corollary to Japanese culpability for the atrocities of WWII). Also moving this ahead of a lot of other Murakami was the fact of a central character who was not a rumpled, lovelorn, depressed whiskey-soaked man. (This book had one of those, but he was not one of the two primary characters.) And I liked Kafka himself, which is new - The only other Murakami where I liked a main character is 1Q84, and that is part of the reason I liked 1Q84 more than other Murakami. I don't need to like characters, but it doesn't hurt. In this book it made things more fun.

This is also the weirdest Murakami I have read, and anyone who has read his work knows that is an accomplishment. The weirdest scene in any book I can recall reading ever features one of our secondary characters (the one most like traditional Murakami protagonist) being ridden to multiple orgasms by a grad school student/prostitute who during sex summarizes Hegel's view of man when her mouth isn't too full. Murakami's imagination is a wonderland. His prose is just fine, but nothing special, but his imagery, there is nothing like it and it is spectacular. It is all so odd and unimaginable without being in the least precious or silly.

I don't have time for a proper review at the moment, but I hope to come back and write one. ( )
  Narshkite | May 8, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 362 (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 (34 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Haruki Murakamiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gabriel, PhilipTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gräfe, UrsulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Porta, LourdesTranslatorsecondary 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.
Quotations
"... 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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A tour-de-force of metaphysical reality, Kafka on the Shore is powered by two remarkable characters. At fifteen, Kafka Tamura runs away from home, either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister. And the aging Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction, finds his highly simplified life suddenly upset. Their odyssey, as mysterious to us as it is to them, 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 fall from the sky. There is a brutal murder, with the identity of both victim and perpetrator a riddle. Yet this, like 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.

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