Kafka on the Shore by Haruki MurakamiKafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Kafka on the Shore

byHaruki Murakami

Paperback | January 3, 2006

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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.
Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages, and the most recent of his many honors is the Yomiuri Literary Prize, whose previous recipients include Yukio Mishima, Kenzaburo Oe, and Kobo Abe.From the Hardcover edition.
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Title:Kafka on the ShoreFormat:PaperbackDimensions:480 pages, 7.99 × 5.18 × 1.04 inPublished:January 3, 2006Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1400079276

ISBN - 13:9781400079278

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Dream of a book Found this book very interesting, can be slow at times though. However reading this book made me feel as though I was in a dream - very surreal and colourful.
Date published: 2017-10-07
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Can I give zero stars? I absolutely hated this book. I cannot understand who people love this author so much, but it is definitely a genre read for people who like the sort of philosophy with talking cats, etc.
Date published: 2017-10-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Classic postmodern classic - made my head spin!
Date published: 2017-09-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Liked it Another brilliant novel by this astounding author
Date published: 2017-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing!! This was the third Murakami book that I read and I loved it! I normally don't like books this long, but it was totally worth it. It's not my favourite book of his, but I do think it's his best. This book totally encompasses who Murakami is as an author; totally amazing and just a little bit strange.
Date published: 2017-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The beginning It was with this novel that my obsession with Murakami began. Now that I own six of this books, I can safely say that this holds its own against all his other works and could in fact be one of his best. It is mystic surrealism at its most gripping.
Date published: 2017-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favourite Murakami! Murakami creates a brilliantly captivating and involved world; I fell in love with it instantly.
Date published: 2017-07-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from First and Best This was my first Murakami novel and I instantly fell in love. It definitely set the tone for my other forays into his work. Weird, surreal, and captivating.
Date published: 2017-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book I love Haruki Murakami! He is such a great writer. But it was just a tad disturbing! However, anything by him is amazing. He does surrealism very well!
Date published: 2017-06-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Like other reviewers have commented, it's definitely not a light read. Some graphic scenes.
Date published: 2017-06-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Unremarkable and pedantic My first novel from the author. Though it had some beautifully written passages as a whole it was unremarkable and pedantic. A good read overall but not something that's a must read.
Date published: 2017-04-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from really good my third Murakami novel. liked it a lot.
Date published: 2017-04-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Nostalgic This was the first Murakami book I'd ever read and I instantly understood why everyone always recommended him to me. I love the worlds he creates; full of references and the otherworldly.
Date published: 2017-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from different very different, but moving.
Date published: 2017-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Different Reality and the mystical merge together in this fantastic psychological novel. Characters are fully developed and plot flows easily. I recommend this book.
Date published: 2017-01-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Terrible!! This was horrible. Slow, boring, uneventful, and confusing! Nothing made any sense and is not even an enjoyable confusing, I just wanted to finish so I could figure out what was going on. It didn't help!
Date published: 2016-12-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful writing He is one of my favourite authors, and this book is definitely one of my favourites! Beautiful writing style.
Date published: 2016-12-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pretty odd but good Let's face it, must Murakami stories have a strange element to them but this one is strange. A young boy runs away from home and tries to avoid the prophecy of him having sex with his mother. It's odd but how the story goes about and him interacting with the characters that he meets along his runaway is what makes this story so captivating. I loved every character in this book. They were all weird and odd. They all had their own things to do and yet somehow it ties in together at the end. I liked the conclusion to the story, though I would have wished for a different ending I believe that the way Kafka on the Shore ended was a masterpiece. This book could not have ended any other way and the whole journey felt like it was worth it. I would read this book again.
Date published: 2016-12-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from what a gem ! a master story teller creating a masterpiece .
Date published: 2016-11-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Strange This was a strange coming of age story, more dream-like than most books I read. While I enjoyed parts of it, I feel I missed how some of the big pieces come together.
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Lost in translation? Like almost all of the Murakami I've read, I feel like I should be crazy about this book, at least on the surface, but the actual reading of it left me flat. I imagine something is just lost in translation, a feeling I often get with Dostoyevsky as well.
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Surreal I chose this book because the library described was on the top 10 list. I was not disappointed. It is a library I would love to visit. The book however was a little deep for me. It is filled with metaphor I sometimes had difficulty with. Well written and very interesting characters. I give it three stars due to my own non comprehension. Not a fault of the book.
Date published: 2015-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A masterpiece A great book from Japan's greatest living author. If anyone is interested in getting diving into the world of Haruki Murakami, this is the place to start.
Date published: 2014-11-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Exceptionally Creative Story If you've ever read Murakami, you'll know to expect interesting worlds, complex characters, thought provoking quests, bizarre animals and a story that takes you places you never thought possible. This is an exceptional version of the Murakami novel and lands in my Top 3 of his books.
Date published: 2014-11-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Exceptionally Creative Story An extremely well crafted pieces of other-worldly fiction. Characters and story lines that will stay with you forever. Transports the reader to places beyond imagination. Read this book.
Date published: 2013-10-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An odd adventure that leaves you perplexed “The world is a metaphor…” (465) Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami is a difficult novel to understand, and the ending is not detailed. This is one of those novels that Murakami suggested should be read more than once to fully comprehend. I thoroughly enjoyed the references to Greek tragedies and philosophy. And the translation of his prose was magnificent. The story itself seems to be inspired by Greek tragedy, mainly Oedipus Rex. Nothing was told about how the oedipal prophecy came to be, but there were hints given through out the narrative. I believe that this is a story about fate, and how it has the power to bring people together. If you do not like the story, than at least you can appreciate the ingenious way the story is plotted and the way that the characters’ dialogues were crafted. Through some of the dialogues, it seems as though Murakami is trying to let the readers know about his tastes in music and literature. The journey of the characters is odd yet remarkable. The most interesting character, I found, was Oshima, the one with who Kafka had intellectual conversations with. “Waves of consciousness roll in, roll out, leave some writing, and just as quickly new waves roll in and erase it. … Before I can read it the next wave's washed it away. All that's left are puzzling fragments.” This seems to be what the title and the story are about. Kafka goes into the world of his conscious and subconscious mind, but can never fully put into words what he learns from the experience. Near the end, we learn that the other world that the characters experienced was in fact the same place. Thus, you must attempt to decipher it yourself. This novel consists of two stories running parallel to one another. The odd numbered chapters are of Kafka, which are written in first-person and in present tense, and the even numbered chapters are about Nakata, which are written in third-person in past tense. Throughout the entire story, Murakami tries to demonstrate that “Things outside you are projections of what’s inside you, and what’s inside you is a projection of what’s outside.” (352) Oshima says that human intestines were the prototype of a labyrinth for the ancient Mesopotamians. “So when you step into the labyrinth outside you, at the same time you’re stepping into the labyrinth inside.” (352) With this in mind, you will notice that throughout the story, dreams are as real as reality. Read the prologue after completing the novel. DISCRIPTION Kafka Tamura, in the beginning, is seen talking to “the boy named Crow,” which seems to be in inner voice, about running away on his fifteenth birthday. And he does run away, from his father, from the terrible prophecy that his father used to mention to Kafka, telling him that there was no way he could avoid it. Kafka was prophesied to kill his father, and be with his mother and sister. Kafka finally understood what the prophecy meant when he was older. However, his mother had taken left him when he was a child, taking his sister with her, and he could not remember how the two looked like. Kafka goes on an odd adventure, where he meets Sakura, who he suspects to be his sister. And visits a private library, where he meets distinct characters, such as Oshima, the desk clerk who Kafka often asks for advice, and Miss Seiki, the head of the library, who seems to be living in the past. Kafka even stays in a cabin surrounded by a forest alone, reflecting on his life. Can Kafka escape the prophecy and change his fate? Or, like in Oedipus Rex, is fate’s tug too strong for a mortal man? In the concurrent story is about Satoru Nakata, an old man, who lost his memory as a child because of odd circumstances. He lives alone, is illiterate, and can talk to cats. Like cats, Nakata lives in the present and accepts things as they are. While searching for a cat that someone asked him to, Nakata goes on an unexpected adventure, meeting the cat killer, Johnnie Walker, and is led by fate to where he must go. Where he must go is what he does not know until the time comes. What mission much Nakata accomplish? Why does he only have half a shadow – a shadow that is lighter than a regular person’s? Will an illiterate man be successful in accomplishing his mission? QUOTES “Silence, I discover, is something you can actually hear.” (138) “There’s only one kind of happiness, but misfortune comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s like Tolstoy said. Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness a story.” (157) “‘The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory.’” (273, quoted from Henri Bergson’s Matter and Memory) “‘At the same time that ‘I’ am the content of a relation, ‘I’ am also that which does the relating.’” (274, quoted from Hegel) “But beyond any of those details of the real, there are dreams. And everyone’s living in them.” (300) 4/5
Date published: 2009-12-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely wonderful You get soaked in Murakami's world. Brilliant.
Date published: 2009-06-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! This is the first Murakami novel I've picked up and what a treat! What an imagination and a way of crafting words that manage to carry the reader up up and away and into that quiet corner of the library. If I could, I would live in this book.
Date published: 2009-01-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Odd! Kafka is a 15 year old boy who runs away form home to find himself. Weird things happen along the journey. Kafka finds friendship in Oshima -a he/she od great intelligence, grace and kindness. Entwined with Kafka's story is that of Mr Nakata an elderly gentleman who can talk to cats and make fish rain from the sky. Both characters are from Nagano ward in Tokyo and both make their journey to Takamatsu without ever meeting however they are to be linked forever thanks to strange occuremces inculding the murder of Kafka's father.
Date published: 2008-06-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Interesting but I wouldn't read it again. To read my thoughts on the book, go to: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=4017343699&topic=3471
Date published: 2008-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding & Moving I have read a few other books by Murakami (Norwegian Wood etc), and this book is just as compelling and moving. The state is dreamlike and captures the reader immediately. It's sad, bittersweet, frustrating, lamenting & hopeful all at the same time. It takes the reader into another world. I couldn't put this book down! I highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2006-10-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Clarifications After reading the first review of Kafka on the Shore, I felt I had to point out a few things. There are two completely different stories that are told in alternating chapters of this book, Kafka's & Takaka's. These two stories converge nicely throughout the novel, coming to a head at the end where a mythical nether-world also enters the picture. The reader is left with alot of questions. In addition, there is another character "the boy named Crow". Is this Kafka's alter-ego, a real person, or just an imaginary friend? It is up to you the reader to draw your own conclusions. Murakami has stated on his website that readers must re-read the novel several times to truly understand its complexities. We, the readers, are also left to the capabilities of the translators if we do not read it in the original Japanese. The version I read (purchased elsewhere from Chapters) was clearly written for an American market, as it had slang terms that only North Americans would use. The other Murakami books I have read (purchased at Chapters) had a distinct British tone. If you are new to Murakami's work, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle would be a better choice. Be warned, as with Kafka's violent cat-killing scene, there is an extremely graphic description of a man being skinned alive (during world war two). Murakami has several themes in his novels that recur; cats, world war two, jazz, and otherworldly places.
Date published: 2006-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Kafka on the Shore To classify Kafka on the Shore in any way is impossible. I'll try anyways: Kafka on the Shore is a mystery novel, two magic realist coming-of-age novels in one, a philosophical response to Sophocles' Oedipus plays, a romance, a comedy. It's pretty much everything all rolled into one. Haruki Murakami is a prodigiously talented writer, and no potential is lost. The mystery Kafka must solve is about his future - is his destiny really set in stone? Is he really going to kill his father and sleep with his sister and mother? The myster Nakata must solve is about a magic portal to where his soul is kept. The mystery we must solve as the reader is what is going on. Murakami never leaves you disoriented. He describes the tricks he pulls as he preforms them. You will, after reading this novel, nevertheless, wonder what it is you have just read, but, given time, Kafka on the Shore will bury its roots deep in your brain, and you'll find yourself realizing things about it months after you've finished the last page. The first magic-realist coming-of-age novel is about Kafka, a 15 year old boy who has just ran away from home. He is destined to kill his father and sleep with his mother. He learns, over the course of the novel, what it means to be an adult (responsibility) and what it means to make your own path through life (happiness). The second is about Nakata, a man who is unable to read or write, but can talk to cats. He is looking for something, but he doesn't quite know what. He meets, during his travels, Colonel Sanders, who is a pimp and who also is God, and Johnnie Walker, who kills cats and is Kafka's father. Murakami tells both of these stories in tandem and, while they never collide, you will notice subtle intersections and similarites in theme. This is a thrilling read, over its entilre length, 400ish pages, I was never frustrated or bored. Murakami is an amazing writer, his books are super and psycho. Kafka on the Shore is his most amazing, super psycho book yet.
Date published: 2006-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Consistent with the artistic and creative talent demonstrated by Haruki Murakami, this book has definitely maintain his reputation and is so far one of my favourite. His stories always incorporate reality defying elements in his stories - pushing magic realism to its limit. Very smooth writing and intriguing conversations depicted. If you are looking for surprises, this book would definitely blow your mind. Mind you, there are some gory details of "cat killing" in Kafka On the Shore that might gross out some readers. In general, an enjoyable read.
Date published: 2006-05-31

Read from the Book

Cash isn't the only thing I take from my father's study when I leave home. I take a small, old gold lighter--I like the design and feel of it--and a folding knife with a really sharp blade. Made to skin deer, it has a five-inch blade and a nice heft. Probably something he bought on one of his trips abroad. I also take a sturdy, bright pocket flashlight out of a drawer. Plus sky blue Revo sunglasses to disguise my age.I think about taking my father's favorite Sea-Dweller Oyster Rolex. It's a beautiful watch, but something flashy will only attract attention. My cheap plastic Casio watch with an alarm and stopwatch will do just fine, and might actually be more useful. Reluctantly, I return the Rolex to its drawer.From the back of another drawer I take out a photo of me and my older sister when we were little, the two of us on a beach somewhere with grins plastered across our faces. My sister's looking off to the side so half her face is in shadow and her smile is neatly cut in half. It's like one of those Greek tragedy masks in a textbook that's half one idea and half the opposite. Light and dark. Hope and despair. Laughter and sadness. Trust and loneliness. For my part I'm staring straight ahead, undaunted, at the camera. Nobody else is there at the beach. My sister and I have on swimsuits--hers a red floral-print one-piece, mine some baggy old blue trunks. I'm holding a plastic stick in my hand. White foam is washing over our feet.Who took this, and where and when, I have no clue. And how could I have looked so happy? And why did my father keep just that one photo? The whole thing is a total mystery. I must have been three, my sister nine. Did we ever really get along that well? I have no memory of ever going to the beach with my family. No memory of going anywhere with them. No matter, though--there is no way I'm going to leave that photo with my father, so I put it in my wallet. I don't have any photos of my mother. My father had thrown them all away.After giving it some thought I decide to take the cell phone with me. Once he finds out I've taken it, my father will probably get the phone company to cut off service. Still, I toss it into my backpack, along with the adapter. Doesn't add much weight, so why not. When it doesn't work anymore I'll just chuck it.Just the bare necessities, that's all I need. Choosing which clothes to take is the hardest thing. I'll need a couple sweaters and pairs of underwear. But what about shirts and trousers? Gloves, mufflers, shorts, a coat? There's no end to it. One thing I do know, though. I don't want to wander around some strange place with a huge backpack that screams out, Hey, everybody, check out the runaway! Do that and someone is sure to sit up and take notice. Next thing you know the police will haul me in and I'll be sent straight home. If I don't wind up in some gang first.Any place cold is definitely out, I decide. Easy enough, just choose the opposite--a warm place. Then I can leave the coat and gloves behind, and get by with half the clothes. I pick out wash-and-wear-type things, the lightest ones I have, fold them neatly, and stuff them in my backpack. I also pack a three-season sleeping bag, the kind that rolls up nice and tight, toilet stuff, a rain poncho, notebook and pen, a Walkman and ten discs--got to have my music--along with a spare rechargeable battery. That's about it. No need for any cooking gear, which is too heavy and takes up too much room, since I can buy food at the local convenience store.It takes a while but I'm able to subtract a lot of things from my list. I add things, cross them off, then add a whole other bunch and cross them off, too.My fifteenth birthday is the ideal time to run away from home. Any earlier and it'd be too soon. Any later and I would have missed my chance.During my first two years in junior high, I'd worked out, training myself for this day. I started practicing judo in the first couple years of grade school, and still went sometimes in junior high. But I didn't join any school teams. Whenever I had the time I'd jog around the school grounds, swim, or go to the local gym. The young trainers there gave me free lessons, showing me the best kind of stretching exercises and how to use the fitness machines to bulk up. They taught me which muscles you use every day and which ones can only be built up with machines, even the correct way to do a bench press. I'm pretty tall to begin with, and with all this exercise I've developed pretty broad shoulders and pecs. Most strangers would take me for seventeen. If I ran away looking my actual age, you can imagine all the problems that would cause.Other than the trainers at the gym and the housekeeper who comes to our house every other day--and of course the bare minimum required to get by at school--I barely talk to anyone. For a long time my father and I have avoided seeing each other. We live under the same roof, but our schedules are totally different. He spends most of his time in his studio, far away, and I do my best to avoid him.The school I'm going to is a private junior high for kids who are upper-class, or at least rich. It's the kind of school where, unless you really blow it, you're automatically promoted to the high school on the same campus. All the students dress neatly, have nice straight teeth, and are boring as hell. Naturally I have zero friends. I've built a wall around me, never letting anybody inside and trying not to venture outside myself. Who could like somebody like that? They all keep an eye on me, from a distance. They might hate me, or even be afraid of me, but I'm just glad they didn't bother me. Because I had tons of things to take care of, including spending a lot of my free time devouring books in the school library.I always paid close attention to what was said in class, though. Just like the boy named Crow suggested.The facts and techniques or whatever they teach you in class isn't going to be very useful in the real world, that's for sure. Let's face it, teachers are basically a bunch of morons. But you've got to remember this: you're running away from home. You probably won't have any chance to go to school anymore, so like it or not you'd better absorb whatever you can while you've got the chance. Become like a sheet of blotting paper and soak it all in. Later on you can figure out what to keep and what to unload.I did what he said, like I almost always do. My brain like a sponge, I focused on every word said in class and let it all sink in, figured out what it meant, and committed everything to memory. Thanks to this, I barely had to study outside of class, but always came out near the top on exams.My muscles were getting hard as steel, even as I grew more withdrawn and quiet. I tried hard to keep my emotions from showing so that no one--classmates and teachers alike--had a clue what I was thinking. Soon I'd be launched into the rough adult world, and I knew I'd have to be tougher than anybody if I wanted to survive.My eyes in the mirror are cold as a lizard's, my expression fixed and unreadable. I can't remember the last time I laughed or even showed a hint of a smile to other people. Even to myself.I'm not trying to imply I can keep up this silent, isolated facade all the time. Sometimes the wall I've erected around me comes crumbling down. It doesn't happen very often, but sometimes, before I even realize what's going on, there I am--naked and defenseless and totally confused. At times like that I always feel an omen calling out to me, like a dark, omnipresent pool of water.A dark, omnipresent pool of water.It was probably always there, hidden away somewhere. But when the time comes it silently rushes out, chilling every cell in your body. You drown in that cruel flood, gasping for breath. You cling to a vent near the ceiling, struggling, but the air you manage to breathe is dry and burns your throat. Water and thirst, cold and heat--these supposedly opposite elements combine to assault you.The world is a huge space, but the space that will take you in--and it doesn't have to be very big--is nowhere to be found. You seek a voice, but what do you get? Silence. You look for silence, but guess what? All you hear over and over and over is the voice of this omen. And sometimes this prophetic voice pushes a secret switch hidden deep inside your brain.Your heart is like a great river after a long spell of rain, full to the banks. All signposts that once stood on the ground are gone, inundated and carried away by that rush of water. And still the rain beats down on the surface of the river. Every time you see a flood like that on the news you tell yourself: That's it. That's my heart.Before running away from home I wash my hands and face, trim my nails, swab out my ears, and brush my teeth. I take my time, making sure my whole body's well scrubbed. Being really clean is sometimes the most important thing there is. I gaze carefully at my face in the mirror. Genes I'd gotten from my father and mother--not that I have any recollection of what she looked like--created this face. I can do my best to not let any emotions show, keep my eyes from revealing anything, bulk up my muscles, but there's not much I can do about my looks. I'm stuck with my father's long, thick eyebrows and the deep lines between them. I could probably kill him if I wanted to--I'm sure strong enough--and I can erase my mother from my memory. But there's no way to erase the DNA they passed down to me. If I wanted to drive that away I'd have to get rid of me.There's an omen contained in that. A mechanism buried inside of me.A mechanism buried inside of you.I switch off the light and leave the bathroom. A heavy, damp stillness lies over the house. The whispers of people who don't exist, the breath of the dead. I look around, standing stock-still, and take a deep breath. The clock shows three p.m., the two hands cold and distant. They're pretending to be noncommittal, but I know they're not on my side. It's nearly time for me to say good-bye. I pick up my backpack and slip it over my shoulders. I've carried it any number of times, but now it feels so much heavier.Shikoku, I decide. That's where I'll go. There's no particular reason it has to be Shikoku, only that studying the map I got the feeling that's where I should head. The more I look at the map--actually every time I study it--the more I feel Shikoku tugging at me. It's far south of Tokyo, separated from the mainland by water, with a warm climate. I've never been there, have no friends or relatives there, so if somebody started looking for me--which I kind of doubt--Shikoku would be the last place they'd think of.I pick up the ticket I'd reserved at the counter and climb aboard the night bus. This is the cheapest way to get to Takamatsu--just a shade over ninety bucks. Nobody pays me any attention, asks how old I am, or gives me a second look. The bus driver mechanically checks my ticket.Only a third of the seats are taken. Most passengers are traveling alone, like me, and the bus is strangely silent. It's a long trip to Takamatsu, ten hours according to the schedule, and we'll be arriving early in the morning. But I don't mind. I've got plenty of time. The bus pulls out of the station at eight, and I push my seat back. No sooner do I settle down than my consciousness, like a battery that's lost its charge, starts to fade away, and I fall asleep.Sometime in the middle of the night a hard rain begins to fall. I wake up every once in a while, part the chintzy curtain at the window, and gaze out at the highway rushing by. Raindrops beat against the glass, blurring streetlights alongside the road that stretch off into the distance at identical intervals like they were set down to measure the earth. A new light rushes up close and in an instant fades off behind us. I check my watch and see it's past midnight. Automatically shoved to the front, my fifteenth birthday makes its appearance.Hey, happy birthday, the boy named Crow says.Thanks, I reply.The omen is still with me, though, like a shadow. I check to make sure the wallaround me is still in place. Then I close the curtain and fall back asleep.*********Visit Haruki Murakami's official website to read more from Kafka on the Shore.www.harukimurakami.com

Bookclub Guide

US1. The first character to speak in Kafka on the Shore is the “boy named Crow” [p. 3]. Who is he? What part of Kafka Tamura’s psyche does he represent?2. “Kafka,” we later learn, means “crow” in Czech. What relationship is Murakami trying to suggest between Franz Kafka, Kafka Tamura, the boy named Crow, and actual crows? At what significant moments do crows appear in the novel? What symbolic value do they have?3. When Kafka meets Sakura on the bus, they agree that “even chance meetings . . . are the results of karma” and that “things in life are fated by our previous lives. That even in the smallest events there’s no such thing as coincidence” [p. 33]. What role does fate, or meaningful coincidence, play in the novel? Is it karma that determines Kafka’s destiny?4. Much of the novel alternates between Kafka’s story and Nakata’s. What effects does Murakami create by moving the reader back and forth between parallel narratives? What is the relationship between Nakata and Kafka?5. When Kafka is a young boy, his father tells him: “Someday you will murder your father and be with your mother” [p. 202], the same destiny as Oedipus. Kafka’s father also tells him that he will sleep with his sister and that there is nothing he can do to prevent this prophecy from being fulfilled. How do Kafka’s attempts to escape his fate bring him closer to fulfilling it?6. The phrase “for the time being” is repeated throughout Kafka on the Shore. Why has Murakami chosen to use this qualifying statement so often? How is the conventional concept of time stretched and challenged by events in the novel? Why does Miss Saeki tell Kafka: “Time’s rules don’t apply here. Time expands, then contracts, all in tune with the stirrings of the heart” [p. 219]?7. In what ways are the boundaries between past and present, dreaming and waking, fantasy and reality blurred and often erased in Kafka on the Shore?8. The teacher in charge of the children who lost consciousness in the woods during World War II writes to her professor many years later and tells him: “I find the worldview that runs through all of your publications very convincing—namely that as individuals each of us is extremely isolated, while at the same time we are all linked by a prototypical memory” [p. 96]. How are the main characters of the novel—Kafka, Nakata, Oshima, Miss Saeki—“extremely isolated”? In what ways do they share a “prototypical memory”? What would that memory be?9. Kafka Tamura seems, in some mysterious way, to be both Miss Saeki’s son and the ghost of her long-dead lover. How does Murakami intend us to understand this shifting and apparently impossible dual identity?10. What is the relationship between Nakata’s quest for the “entrance stone” and Kafka’s journey into the forest?11. In what ways can Kafka on the Shore be read as a love story?12. The supernatural shape-shifter, who takes the form of Colonel Sanders, tells Hoshino that he is neither God nor Buddha but a kind of “overseer, supervising something to make sure it fulfills its original role. Checking the correlation between different worlds, making sure things are in the right order” [p. 284]. What are these different worlds? Is Colonel Sanders talking about parallel universes?13. Kafka on the Shore is, for the most part, a realistic novel, yet it contains many magical elements—Nakata’s ability to talk with cats and make fish fall from the sky, the shape-shifting Colonel Sanders, the middle-aged Miss Saeki visiting Kafka as her fifteen-year-old self. What is Murakami saying about the nature of reality and our beliefs about it through these seemingly impossible episodes?14. At the end of the novel, Oshima tells Kafka, “You’ve grown up” [p. 463]. In what ways has Kafka been changed by his experience? What are the most important things he has learned? Why does he feel he has entered “a brand-new world” [p. 467]?

Editorial Reviews

“As powerful as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. . . . Reading Murakami . . . is a striking experience in consciousness expansion.” –The Chicago Tribune

“An insistently metaphysical mind-bender.”
The New Yorker

“If he has not achieved that status already, Haruki Murakami is on course to becoming the most widely read Japanese writer outside Japan, past or present.”
New York Times