Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the Shore
by Haruki Murakami
performed by Sean Barrett & Oliver Le Sueur
Published 2006 by Naxos AudioBooks
19 hours, 6 minutes. Unabridged.
Rating: 4/5

Kafka on the Shore follows two story lines. The odd chapters follow Kafka Tamura, a 15-year-old boy running away from home to escape a curse. He finds himself in a private library in Takamatsu, where he meets the strange, intellgent Oshima and the myteriously beautiful Miss Saeki. One night, after waking covered in blood on a street corner, Kafka worries that the curse has found him. The odd chapters follow Nakata, an elderly and mentally ill man. The mysterious man has found use of his strange abilities by finding lost cats. The search for one of these cats turns out badly and leads Nakata far away from his home. Along the way, he befriends a truck-driver named Hoshino, who becomes very fond of Nakata.

This was my first dip in the pool of metaphysical writing. That means I didn’t fully understand everything that happened. But that’s okay because how could I expect to understand something I’ve never come across before. It’s probably the most complicated and confusing book I’ve ever read (okay, listened to), and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I’m pretty glad I listened to an audiobook version because I’m not sure I would have been able to get through a print version. I think I would have gotten hopelessly lost. I’m actually pretty nervous about reviewing this because I read a few reviews after reading it (something I never do before I write my own) and they left me sitting at my computer with my mouth hanging open, trying to translate their insights into any language I might understand. Finally, I decided to suck it up and write how I felt about the book, the same way I would any other, with honesty and words anyone could understand.

All of that being said, I loved this book instantly. It had me from the first chapter, maybe the first sentence. No, I didn’t totally understand it, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to bash it and call it a mess (like I saw in quite a few reviews). I usually read books that are fluffy kiddy books compared to this, but I like that I can make it through a book like this and get something out of it. I’m so relieved that I’m not the girl ranting about how this book skips around too much or just doesn’t make any sense. No, sir. I loved the flow of the book. It worked well for this story. In fact, I feel it was imperative that it was written the way it was because the two stories parallel each other for a reason.

I thought the blend of dreams vs. reality, philosophy, humor, and sexuality worked so well for this book. Books like this one impress me because I just can’t imagine finishing it and thinking “I understood all of that,” much less writing it. As soon as I finished this book I wanted to go to B&N and buy every one of his books and get to work on them. And I plan to that eventually. I think Murakami is a great writer. I was never bored, which is really saying something. I normally get bored at least once during a book. I can usually make one complaint. Not here. It was perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Kafka is now one of my all-time favorite characters. He’s such an intelligent 15-year-old. He’s smarter than I am at 23! I just love him. I love Oshima almost as much as Kafka. The two are a great team and I always found their conversation very interesting. I’m going to admit it, I had a harder time with Nakata and Hoshino. It took me a little while to warm up to them. I got there, though. By the end, I truly loved all the characters, which is also strange. There’s usually someone I don’t like.

The audiobook was well done. There were two main narrators, one for Kafka’s chapters and one for Nakata’s chapters. There were also a few others at the beginning for various small things. They all had good voices and did well with voices for characters and such. I do wish they’d decided to pronounce names the same though. Sometimes it would take me a minute to figure out who the Nakata narrator was talking about because he pronounced the name differently.

I know this is already a long review, but I just want to say that if you get frustrated with metaphysical writing, you probably shouldn’t read this book. Trust me, it doesn’t need anymore reviewers ranting about how much is sucked just because they couldn’t understand any of it. Honestly, I think it makes the reviewer look bad, not the book. I’d rather read an objective review than someone trashing it because they didn’t like it. Sorry! I’m done ranting about bad reviews!

Source: http://downloadable.jclc.org
Author’s website: http://www.murakami.ch/main_5.html
Purchase this book: Naxos Audiobooks | Book Depository | IndieBound | Audible

Leave a comment


  1. Nice review! I loved this book! –Hmmm, I'll have to try audiobook some day …just afraid I'd loose a lot that way.

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog! This is a great review! I've been meaning to read one of his books for a while… I didn't realize this was that complex though. Hmm, sort of scares me, but if you still insist it's good I'll eventually give it a try, hehe. =)

  3. This was definitely a change from manga and YA! But it sounds like you were rewarded for challenging yourself and makes me even more interested to read this one.


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    Some of the books reviewed on this blog were sent to me by the author or publisher for review. I did not receive any payment in exchange for the review nor was I obligated to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of these reviews. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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