Kafka on the Shore

By Haruki Murakami,

Book cover of Kafka on the Shore

Book description

"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…

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Why read it?

6 authors picked Kafka on the Shore as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is one of my favourite novels, and since reading that, I have read quite a few more of his.

Not all of them are great, but Kafka on the Shore is the real deal—Japanese magic realism. His books always start out believably humdrum, with their passive, aimless protagonists, but sooner or later the stories warp into the supernatural and inexplicable. Talking cats, mysterious non-places, parallel time-streams… it’s all there.

I love and hate Murakami’s books. He writes literary fiction, not urban fantasy or YA. However, he’s the best at injecting fantasy into an otherwise normal and often sad story (I kind of like sad stories). His characters are real people, they have no special powers. I can relate to them and their experiences, which makes all his books meaningful to me. Kafka follows a runaway kid who is trying to find a long-lost mother and sister. Straight forward enough, until a cat talks and fish rain down on Tokyo. It’s complicated, PG, and in true Murakami style, there’s no…

There are some labyrinths you enter, in which you want to remain lost. While simultaneously longing for a way out. Haruki Murakami’s beguiling masterpiece, Kafka on the Shore, qualifies as that sort of labyrinth-as-novel. A coming-of-age odyssey with a metaphysical slant, the journey which the teen protagonist, Kafka, undertakes, lures the reader through a kaleidoscopic realm steeped in pop culture, romance, shadow-play, family trauma, and ultimately, salvation. When I finished this novel, or found myself ejected from the labyrinth back into the “real” world, echoes of wonder and intrigue continued to haunt and inspire me for a long time…

A fifteen-year-old boy runs away from an abusive father, but in truth, he cannot escape his shadow self which relates to feelings about his physical body. As he journeys through time, he is visited by a ghost and a talking cat, and the riddles of life are presented to him through various characters. Although plot points and timeline may be difficult to follow at times, the narrative takes you on a surreal journey that is more visceral than prosaic. I love that Murakami presents puzzles having to do with the nature of consciousness, self-identity, and transformation. And he refrains from…

Murakami does textbook-grade, serious literature on the face of it but (and this is important) he is also endless fun. Not so much sci-fi – see Hard-Boiled Wonderland for him to commit to that – as metaphysics on Speed, his disregard for any kind of convention in Kafka on the Shore is joyful in its playfulness. It has talking cats and the living embodiment of a famous whiskey brand all while being a profound study of teenage angst, solitude, and sex, resting in a hammock of breezy prose. This book (frankly, any of his books) hits you square in…

I could have filled this entire list with books by Japanese authors. It is a generalization but I find the writing from this country to be so very unique. Quirky, perceptive, direct, and utterly enthralling, however mundane the subject. Kafka on the Shore was the book that started this passion for me and remains a masterpiece of surrealist fiction in my mind. It follows the story arcs of a man that can talk to cats and a boy that has run away from home, following them on their spellbinding journey. I haven’t come across many books that manage to lift…

From Emma's list on escape from the darn kids.

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