Haruki Murakami – Kafka on the Shore

Well this was the latest choice at our book club.  The general consensus was that everybody liked it (the person who didn’t,  disliked it so much that she chose not to come).    When asked to sum it up in one word, one of them given was ‘surreal’.  Well this is certainly the case, talking cats, space ships, time warped forests  but I would say the book starts bizarrely and becomes even more so once you reach the second half.

The story is about a Japanese boy who calls himself Kafka who decides to run away from his Dad to Shikoku.  There he meets some interesting characters in an amazing library.  It is whilst here that he has lots of time to think about his father’s prediction that he will have sex both with his mother and his sister (yes, the old Oedipus thing again).  His story runs parallel to that of  Nakata, an old man who has lost him memory and mental faculties after a strange incident during World War II where a group of school children mysteriously fall into a coma.

I realise that this doesn’t really explain very well the story but it is quite strange, especially once Johnny Walker and Colonel Sanders enter the story.  However I enjoyed reading this, but not as much as Norwegian Wood which it was impossible to read without singing ‘I once had a girl, or should I say she once had me’.  Kafka has its own song too but you have to make up your own words.



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7 responses to “Haruki Murakami – Kafka on the Shore

  1. “(T)hough it will leave his long-term fans feeling slightly disappointed, there’s no reason to suspect that the dauntingly prolific Murakami is in danger of going permanently off the boil. – Christopher Tayler, Daily Telegraph

  2. “Kafka on the Shore is undoubtedly a very readable book. Although the resolution is weak, Murakami builds suspense skilfully and draws you inexorably into a convoluted, fantastical storyline. (…) It may seem idiotic to complain about lack of plausibility in a meandering narrative featuring talking cats and ghostly spirits– but that is Kafka on the Shore’s main flaw, and one that makes it a more insubstantial experience than its weighty appearance suggests.” – Ludovic Hunter-Tilney, Financial Times

  3. “Unless I am being particularly dim-witted, loose ends remain far looser than in any Murakami novel to date. For sheer love of a thumping narrative, the novel delivers gloriously.” – David Mitchell, The Guardian

  4. “Kafka on the Shore contains more than enough mystery to delight fans, and will also entrance newcomers. – Matt Thorne, The Independent

  5. ” I would recommend it to anyone, but with a word of caution for the uninitiated. If you have not read Murakami before, you will enjoy this doorstop of a novel a whole lot more if you start, like this novel’s protagonist, with a bit of circuit training from this author’s earlier work.” – James Urquhart, Independent on Sunday


  6. Loved Kafka, but it was ultimately too surreal even for me, and so i simultaneously loved it, but also felt disappointed since I’m a huge fan of Murakami’s work and regard this as probably his least cohesive… A couple of the chapters just didn’t really need to be in there… That said, get and read it. Some great characters as ever, just a slight shame we didn’t get more of Sakura with her assymetric face…

  7. So what chapters didn´t need to be there? What books of his are better?

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