Review: Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the Shore
Haruki Murakami
(Vintage, Paperback, 9781400079278, January 2006, 480pp.)

The Short of It:

An odd, quirky little novel full of unforgettable characters.

The Rest of It:

Kafka Tamura is a young, 15-year-old boy who runs away from home. Nakata, is an older gentleman who became “simple” after falling into a coma along with sixteen other school children when he was younger. He also runs away from his home, but for entirely different reasons. Both encounter interesting characters along the way.

There is no easy way to summarize this novel. After just a few pages, I began to wonder what Murakami was smoking when he wrote it. This book is WAY out there. There are talking cats, a pimp who dresses up like Colonel Sanders, a gay transgendered librarian, and a cat killer named Johnnie Walker.

What first seemed like a disaster to me, turned into one of the most memorable reads of the year! This is my first experience with Murakami but I enjoyed his writing so much, that I am now in the process of reading all of his work.

I have to caution you. This is not a book for everyone, but anyone in a reading rut will be jolted right out of it after reading it. Kafka on the Shore is thought-provoking and different, very different. It reminded me a lot of The Wizard of Oz because of all the people these two characters meet along the way. I absolutely loved it.

Source: Borrowed.

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20 thoughts on “Review: Kafka on the Shore”

  1. Yes, I have heard this about Murakami. I have Kafka on my Kindle and Wind Up Bird Chronicles on my shelves. I think it is time perhaps that I give him a try. I did read his memoir and it was fascinating.

    1. I recall a conversation I had back when I was in college. My project partner had been reading Wind-Up Bird and said it was like dropping acid, without the acid. I made a mental note to read it then, and then never did. It took me years to finally get to a Murakami book but now I have all of his books to look forward to.

  2. Completely agree with your analysis. That’s pretty much every Murakami in a nutshell: “This is not a book for everyone, but anyone in a reading rut will be jolted right out of it after reading it.”

    I’m getting ready to reread A Wild Sheep Chase, which is the prequel to the one you’re reading now, Dance, Dance, Dance. Personally, I can’t wait to reread it and then Dance, Dance, Dance.

    1. I guess I didn’t pay attention to which book came out first. Dance Dance Dance was on the library shelf when I finished Kafka so that is what I grabbed. I’m sure I’ll read A Wild Sheep Chase too. I can’t wait for his new book 1Q84 to hit the States!

  3. Wow…I don’t even know what to say…I am sort of still thinking about the content…and thinking…and thinking…but a kitty killer? For real?

    1. The beauty of this novel is that you never know what is real and what is imagined. There are lots of dream-like states. The whole cat killer thing was so out there and graphic, but was it real in the story? Not sure. Just they guy’s name (Johnnie Walker) makes you wonder.

  4. To go from seeming disaster to one of the year’s most memorable is pretty amazing! After Dark has been on my shelf for a couple of years, but I’ve yet to read my first Murakami. This one sounds weirdly fascinating…

    1. Weirdly fascinating is the perfect way to describe it. Sometimes I felt as if I was looking at Murakami’s world through the bottom of a glass bottle.. it was totally distorted and surreal but not unpleasant. Almost comforting.

  5. I’m so glad you liked this book. I have been meaning to read Murakami’s work for too long. Your review further pique’s my interest in his works! Have fun reading more of them!

  6. I’ve wondered about this book more than once although I’m still not sure it’s for me. I’m glad it turned out to be a good read for you after all. It sure does sound ‘out there’.

  7. My friend and I loved this book. /she even named her fish Oshima. 😀 I have other Murakami books waiting to be read, but I’m afraid to read his stuff too closely together.

  8. I’m glad you like it. I wouldn’t call it “Little novel” because I took quite awhile to finish it. Perhaps my thinking is too linear so I prefer Murakami’s love stories rather than all fantasy ones!

  9. This one sounds fab! I’m going to add it to my list to read. I’m esp curious about that coma with 16 other boys? That’s strange (I’ve only heard of one such incident previously).

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