Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

79%

31 Critic Reviews

In short, this is Murakami territory, a beguiling landscape that only exists inside his visionary novels, and which is realized with particular intensity in Kafka on the Shore.
-Blog Critics

Synopsis

Kafka on the Shore 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.

As their paths converge, and the reasons for that convergence become clear, Haruki Murakami enfolds readers in a world where cats talk, fish fall from the sky, and spirits slip out of their bodies to make love or commit murder. Kafka on the Shore displays one of the world’s great storytellers at the peak of his powers.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Haruki Murakami

See more books from this Author
Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into forty-two languages. The most recent of his many honours is the Franz Kafka Prize.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published January 18, 2005 by Vintage. 448 pages
Genres: Children's Books, Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy, History. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Kafka on the Shore
All: 31 | Positive: 29 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Excellent
on May 20 2010

Murakami is of course himself an immensely reader-friendly novelist, and never has he offered more enticing fare than this enchantingly inventive tale. A masterpiece, entirely Nobel-worthy.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Jan 18 2016

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...

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Laura Miller on Feb 06 2005

The weird, stately urgency of Murakami's novels comes from their preoccupation with such internal problems...In each, a self lies in pieces and must be put back together...But while anyone can tell a story that resembles a dream, it's the rare artist, like this one, who can make us feel that we are dreaming it ourselves.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Jan 31 2005

However vague its allusions and overbearing its pretensions, however needlessly jive its English translatio...this book makes for a beguiling and enveloping experience...This novel makes pendulum swings between the story of how Kafka runs away from home, and how good-hearted old Nakata, the cat whisperer, embarks on a peculiar quest.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by David Mitchell on Jan 08 2005

Unless I am being particularly dim-witted, loose ends remain far looser than in any Murakami novel to date... For Murakami devotees, this fantasy's loose ends will tantalise...but for the unconvinced, they will just dangle, rather ropily...I think it is fair to say that Kafka on the Shore is not one of Murakami's masterpieces

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Tim Adams on Jan 02 2005

Kafka Tamura wants to escape from this fate but, in his dreams, of course, is drawn towards it. The fun and drama of Murakami's storytelling is that you are never quite certain where those dreams end and where reality begins. His singular skill as a novelist lies in creating hallucinatory landscapes in which everything has an internal logic...

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by David Mitchell on Jan 07 2005

I think it is fair to say that Kafka on the Shore is not one of Murakami's masterpieces...but it is an inventive, alluring, striving novel, and would that more writers in translation hope to find such a large and hungry audience. Respect is due.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Tim Adams on Jan 01 2005

All of Murakami's writing is suffused with a sense of loss, as if his face were pressed against the glass of next, more perfect worlds. While he was writing this book, he was completing a new Japanese translation of The Catcher in the Rye in the evenings, and you might find traces of Holden Caulfield in the character of Kafka Tamura...

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Blog Critics

Above average
Reviewed by Ted Gioia on Sep 17 2008

In short, this is Murakami territory, a beguiling landscape that only exists inside his visionary novels, and which is realized with particular intensity in Kafka on the Shore.

Read Full Review of Kafka on the Shore | See more reviews from Blog Critics

Blog Critics

Above average
Reviewed by Ted Gioia on Sep 17 2008

The end result is a novel of constantly shifting ground. At times, Kafka on the Shore takes on the overtones of Greek tragedy, but then a short while later it seems to plunge into the murky world of Jungian archetypes. It mixes Bildungsroman and fantasy and conventional urban narratives into a strange combination...

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by The Banker on Sep 15 2005

...I know a great novel when I read one, and Kafka on the Shore is one of the best. Read it, and keep your Stephen King close at hand. And tell me if you don’t see the similarities.

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by The Banker on Sep 15 2005

...I know a great novel when I read one, and Kafka on the Shore is one of the best...most of all, enjoy this novel, for that’s what it’ s meant for, not to be analyzed to death...simply read, reread, and enjoyed, down to the last delicious lick of the last savoury page.

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Examiner

Excellent
Reviewed by Sam Grabus on Oct 24 2010

On a whole, I enjoyed Kafka on the Shore immensely...Murakami accomplishes Magical Realism at its best, right up there with Franz Kafka, himself, and I truly believe that he is one of the most accomplished living writers in the world. In the end, I give Kafka on the Shore five stars...

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Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on Jan 22 2011

In a wholly unique style, perhaps best described as Japanese magical realism, Murakami's tale is both hopeful and heartbreaking --- a story of grief, loss and memory...KAFKA ON THE SHORE is brilliant storytelling, such an original and well-written novel. It is fun and interesting to read, but thoughtful and challenging as well.

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AV Club

Good
Reviewed by Scott Tobias on Feb 15 2005

Like the best of his work, Kafka On The Shore makes the eccentric seem transcendent, supplying his wayward narrative with one resonant image and encounter after another...

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AV Club

Above average
Reviewed by Scott Tobias on Feb 15 2005

Like the best of his work, Kafka On The Shore makes the eccentric seem transcendent, supplying his wayward narrative with one resonant image and encounter after another...In the true Murakami spirit, it's hard to account for anything, but easy to yield to it anyway.

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Entertainment Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Jennifer Reese on Jan 19 2005

If this plot sounds totally demented, trust me, it gets even weirder than that. Like a dream, you just have to be there. And, like a dream, what this dazzling novel means — or whether it means anything at all — we may never know.

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Suite 101

Good
Reviewed by Keith Lawrence on Aug 05 2012

Full of real characters, from the blue collar Hoshino (a personal favourite) to the impeccably cool Oshima, from the sexually liberated Sakura to Kafka and Nakata themselves, Kafka on the Shore is a truly magical novel.

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Pajiba

Good
Reviewed by Brian Prisco on Jun 08 2009

Indeed, it's weird that I was able to access this novel, particularly since it's a ghost story involving talking cats. But Murakami's style is so natural everything over the top just works...It's a brilliant novel that had me grinning with delight.

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About.com

Good
Reviewed by Mark Flanagan on Oct 03 2015

Murakami yet again proves his mastery at creating compellingly ordinary characters who move nonplussed through extraordinary realms...if you're looking for something to jar you from the bounds of your own reality, your own understanding, then look no further. A Haruki Murakami novel, like a Zen koan, is crafted for just such a purpose.

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Bloomberg

Above average
Reviewed by Hephzibah Anderson on Jan 03 2005

Haruki Murakami's latest novel features talking tomcats, fish tumbling from stormy skies and Johnnie Walker, the whisky icon, sprung to life in a silk topper and skin-tight pants. Even by his own far-out standards, ``Kafka on the Shore'' is surreal.

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The Moderate Voice

Above average
Reviewed by Jessica Schneider on Oct 31 2007

Overall, I have to say that this is one of the most unusual books I’ve ever read. He delves into both the real and surreal, the dream and waking—that you are not sure which world you are in. Maybe both at once.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by igotcha on Jun 28 2013

Kafka On The Shore by Haruki Murakami is a sensational book that you won’t put down. Haruki Murakami takes you to a world where it’s dream-like, fish falling from the sky, and talking cats...I would definitely recommend this book to everyone who loves twists, surprises, imagery, and dream like adventures.

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Curled Up

Good
Reviewed by Brian Charles Clark on Sep 28 2005

Surprisingly, mysteriously, and ultimately, satisfyingly, it is not the murder that connects these characters but something much stranger...Darkness creeps in: Miss Saeki in her solitude—what is she remembering...You’ll get no answers from me except to say that this masterful novel is much more than a literary puzzle.

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Things Mean a Lot

Above average
Reviewed by Ana S on Jul 13 2007

I really liked this book. It had a very unique mood, interesting and memorable characters, and it was a story I responded to emotionally, even if I’m not sure I completely made sense of it. I will certainly be reading more of Murakami’s work in the future.

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Inverarity is not a Scottish village

Above average
Reviewed by Inverarity on Dec 16 2011

Fantasy by any other name, but a peculiar surrealistic fantasy blending dreams and parallel worlds with modern Japan. The magic is all unexplained plot devices while the characters are the center of the story...This was not my favorite Murakami novel, but it was still entertaining and interesting

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Reading on a Rainy Day

Good
Reviewed by Athira on Oct 21 2011

Kafka on the Shore took me close to a month to finish. It isn't even that huge, but there's so much intrigue in here, that occasionally I spent a few days digesting what I had just read...And despite my usual reluctance to read anything that's not grounded in reality, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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http://www.complete-review.com

Good
on Oct 02 2015

The novel is presented in alternating chapters, plot-lines that inevitably converge and cross (but without completely merging)...Chapter by chapter Kafka on the Shore is an entertaining read: Murakami tells his stories well, and what happens is, at the very least, unusual.

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Backlisted

Good
Reviewed by Andrew Wilmot on May 01 2011

Kafka on the Shore is not Murakami’s strongest work, and it sometimes relies too much on imagery and concepts used in his previous novels, but it is difficult to put down all the same...Kafka on the Shore offers a deeper glimpse into the types of questions that drive Murakami’s work, and as such it is very easy to recommend.

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http://www.januarymagazine.com

Above average
Reviewed by Summer Block on Jul 01 2005

In Kafka on the Shore, the latest mind-bending novel by Japanese sensation Haruki Murakami, we are again treated to a series of events too fantastical to bear retelling, set in a world at once familiar and alien...Despite Murakami's fertile imagination and enthusiastic plotting, there remains something flat and listless about his prose.

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Book Jones Review

Good
Reviewed by Mike Jones on Oct 24 2011

In the end, Kafka on the Shore is really about self enlightenment, not just as a teenager reaches adulthood, but at every stage of our life. The possibilities for personal growth and change present themselves in sometimes ordinary or sometimes very odd ways.

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Reader Rating for Kafka on the Shore
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