"A stunning work of art that bears no comparisons" the New York Observer wrote of Haruki Murakami's masterpiece, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. In its playful stretching of the limits of the real world, his magnificent new novel, Kafka on the Shore is every bit as bewitching and ambitious. The narrative follows the fortunes of two remarkable ...
"A stunning work of art that bears no comparisons" the New York Observer wrote of Haruki Murakami's masterpiece, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. In its playful stretching of the limits of the real world, his magnificent new novel, Kafka on the Shore is every bit as bewitching and ambitious. The narrative follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father's dark prophesy. The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his highly simplified life suddenly overturned. Their parallel odysseys - as mysterious to them as they are to the reader - are enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerising dramas. Fish tumble in storms from the sky; cats carry on conversations with people; a ghostlike if familiar pimp deploys a Hegel-spouting girl of the night; a forest harbours soldiers apparently un-aged since WWII. There is a brutal murder, but the identity of both victim and killer is a riddle. Yet this, as all else, is eventually resolved, even as the entwined destinies of Kafka and Nakata are gradually unravelled. Murakami's new novel is at once a classic tale of quest, but it is also a bold exploration of mythic and contemporary taboos, of patricide, of mother-love, of sister-love. Above all it is an entertainment of a very high order.
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This is the best book I've read in along time. Such a great use of words and the story could only come from Murakami. You can never tell what's around the corner, although nothing is really all that clarified, I found myself getting increasingly more interested as the chapters jumped from character to character. Definitely a great achievement for Murakami and our luck for being able to read it. One to make you think.
P.S. When this book came out, Murakami told readers to submit their questions about the book, he replied himself to 1,800 replies from more than 10,000.
Mar 23, 2007
The story takes place in Japan, where a boy, who calls himself Kafka, runs away from home. We learn this is to try to escape living out a horrific Oedipal curse his father has told him he has. Simultaneously, it is the story of an older man, horribly damaged as a schoolboy in an unexplained incident during WWII. Despite his mental limitations, he becomes a central figure in Kafka's life as he's drawn towards him in surreal, dreamlike encounters.
Like I said, summing it up is hard, even moreso if I mentioned that two characters are named Johnny Walker and Colonel Sanders. You might think that makes the book funny, and you'd be right. It's also terribly sad, and poetic, and something else I'm not quite sure about. What I do know is that reading this book feels like I've found another writer whose work I wait for, and what's better is that he has a whole library I haven't explored yet. I could be disappointed, but Kafka On The Shore is clearly one of the better books I've read in years.
Publishers Weekly, 2004-12-06 Previous books such as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Norwegian Wood have established Murakami as a true original, a fearless writer possessed of a wildly uninhibited imagination and a legion of fiercely devoted fans. In this latest addition to the author's incomparable oeuvre, 15-year-old Kafka Tamura runs away from home, both to escape his father's oedipal prophecy and to find his long-lost mother and sister. As Kafka flees, so too does Nakata, an elderly simpleton whose quiet life has been upset by a gruesome murder. (A wonderfully endearing character, Nakata has never recovered from the effects of a mysterious World War II incident that left him unable to read or comprehend much, but did give him the power to speak with cats.) What follows is a kind of double odyssey, as Kafka and Nakata are drawn inexorably along their separate but somehow linked paths, groping to understand the roles fate has in store for them. Murakami likes to blur the boundary between the real and the surreal-we are treated to such oddities as fish raining from the sky; a forest-dwelling pair of Imperial Army soldiers who haven't aged since WWII; and a hilarious cameo by fried chicken king Colonel Sanders-but he also writes touchingly about love, loneliness and friendship. Occasionally, the writing drifts too far into metaphysical musings-mind-bending talk of parallel worlds, events occurring outside of time-and things swirl a bit at the end as the author tries, perhaps too hard, to make sense of things. But by this point, his readers, like his characters, will go just about anywhere Murakami wants them to, whether they "get" it or not. Agent, Amanda Urban at ICM. 60,000 first printing. (Jan. 24) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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