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Kafka on the Shore Paperback – January 3, 2006
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“An insistently metaphysical mind-bender.”
–The New Yorker
“If he has not achieved that status already, Haruki Murakami is on course to becoming the most widely read Japanese writer outside Japan, past or present.”
–New York Times
From the Inside Flap
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.
"From the Hardcover edition.
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I just finished it and let me say, I love it. To be honest I cant pinpoint exactly what makes this book so extraordinary. It may be the fact that there are twists and turns you don't see coming. It may be the random scenes that occur that make no sense but someone work with the story. It may be that although there are two completely separate story lines, they somehow blend together so well. To be honest, it was probably all of that and some more. If you were to ask me the moral of the story or what the story was about, I don't think I would be able to tell you. But one thing I know for sure is that this is a book everyone should read. It is exciting, unlike any other books I read, and draws you in. You make connections to the story, and the characters are way ahead of the times. All and all, it is worth the read.
Kafka on the Shore reads like one of those dreams. It's something apart from your daily world. You think it's spilling over into your waking memories, but if you take a closer look, you recognize how it's always been a part of you and always will be.
And just like one of those dreams - one so fabulous, so fantastic, and so utterly involving - you don't want it to end.
What makes it so? The poetry of Mr Murakami's metaphors strike deep. His characters are well drawn, each one unique in their uniqueness. They're not transparent and definitely not predictable. To say what or who they are would not do them justice and would sell your experience short. However, when it's all said and done, and if you open yourself up to the self understanding, it's not difficult to see that each one is a part of you.
And the story itself? Well, like Nakata or Hoshino, you must be patient to see where events take you. Just when you think you have it figured out, Mr Murakami adds another twist to the plot or to the metaphor in play all the way up to a very perfect ending. And you still don't want the dream to end even though the alarm clock of the last word on the last page is ringing out, telling you the dream is over and it's time to put the book down.
The basis for the book’s title is the name of a song, “Kafka on the Shore” that Miss Saeki wrote when she was young and in love. Kafka reads through the lyrics and becomes enamored with the tune. The song’s lyrics mentions “little fish” raining from the sky and a girl’s “search for the entrance stone”, both which are part of this novel. In fact, the song is sort of an allegory for much of the novel’s premise.
I think my favorite quote that comes from this book is when Miss Saeki is speaking with the young protagonist Kafka on a book she wrote about lightening: “The book didn't come to any conclusion, and nobody wants to read a book that doesn't have one. For me, though, having no conclusion seemed perfectly fine.”
I thought this a fitting quote in some ways, as it seems to illustrate and depict not only “the quest” in Kafka on the Shore, but the entire Murakami reading experience. This is my third read from Murakami (I read Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World and The Wind Up Bird Chronicle within the last year) , and what I’ve come to realize is that there are no easy answers or solutions in his works. There are few very definites; rather, metaphors come to be the basis for the plot. Emotion often is the central piece in directing a character towards a path. The search is always ongoing. Part of the journey of Kafka on the Shore is putting your own conclusions together. And this is what I love about Murakami’s books. He can take the trivial of life and combine it with the illogical, imaginative and symbolic and somehow make it all work. There is a poetic brilliance about the journey, one that takes us to two converging storylines to a new place and destination.
Perhaps Oshima, speaking philosophy to Kafka about tragedies, says it best when he quotes “Man doesn’t choose Fate. Fate chooses man.” This is indicative of Kafka on the Shore’s direction.
Top international reviews
Einen Spannungsbogen hat das Buch nach meiner Einschätzung kaum, von manchen Abschnitten abgesehen, in denen sich innerhalb von Kapiteln etwas Spannung abbaut, die dann meist noch im selben Kapitel wieder abebbt, plätschert es eher vor sich hin. Das tut der Erzählung jedoch keinen Abbruch, denn so bleibt mehr Raum für die Ausleuchtung des Innenlebens der Charaktere. In den Dialogen findet sich immer wieder ein sehr trockener Humor, der mir gut gefällt. Es wird nicht immer klar, was tatsächlich geschieht und was nur in Träumen, aber das hat für mich einen gewissen Reiz.
Wer einen spannungsgeladenen Roman erwartet, ist bei "Kafka on the shore" falsch, wer einen Roman sucht, der zur Selbstreflexion anregt und sich in surrealistischen Gefilden bewegt, ist hier genau richtig.
It is so sad that few people have nothing else to comment than about the size/volume etc. of this print. Don't be mislead, this is a perfect pocket - size book, very easy to carry with you and read everywhere.
This book is simply wonderful, don't doubt it. Just take a deep breath and dive into the world where people can talk to the cats and truck drivers suddenly discover Beethoven.