Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Previous books such as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Norwegian Wood have established Murakami as a true original, a fearless writer possessed of a wildly uninhibited imagination and a legion of fiercely devoted fans. In this latest addition to the author's incomparable oeuvre, 15-year-old Kafka Tamura runs away from home, both to escape his father's oedipal prophecy and to find his long-lost mother and sister. As Kafka flees, so too does Nakata, an elderly simpleton whose quiet life has been upset by a gruesome murder. (A wonderfully endearing character, Nakata has never recovered from the effects of a mysterious World War II incident that left him unable to read or comprehend much, but did give him the power to speak with cats.) What follows is a kind of double odyssey, as Kafka and Nakata are drawn inexorably along their separate but somehow linked paths, groping to understand the roles fate has in store for them. Murakami likes to blur the boundary between the real and the surreal—we are treated to such oddities as fish raining from the sky; a forest-dwelling pair of Imperial Army soldiers who haven't aged since WWII; and a hilarious cameo by fried chicken king Colonel Sanders—but he also writes touchingly about love, loneliness and friendship. 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, whether they "get" it or not.

 

Review from Publishers Weekly

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  • Wayne

    By the way, I didn't know where else to post this, but there's a little delay on listing the next discussion. Someone new is in charge of taking reservations at Java Vino and seems to be competing for the Most Unresponsive award. I do know Thursday, June 27 is a no-go for J.V, -- am trying for Wed. the 26th. The book has been decided upon, though -- we're reading The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer in case anyone wants to get a start on it.

    1 · May 23, 2013

    • Kevin

      P.S. Nice to have the opportunity to use the word scuttlebutt!

      1 · May 23, 2013

    • Wayne

      The management upheaval would explain some things and why "seemingly easy" doesn't apply. I tried the phone thing many moons ago and they explained one person takes reservations for the wine cellar and to use email...the new person did email once, but has not responded to my response. If I don't hear back within a week, I'll try Plan B, whatever that may be...

      May 23, 2013

  • Tom R.

    Perhaps if Leo could play Kafka, I'd like the movie version...

    1 · May 23, 2013

    • Wayne

      I had a flashback to that discussion last night when John Stewart had a funny bit about "Someone everyone loves" and a picture of Ryan Gosling popped up... :-)

      May 23, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    The book was overall good, though not my favorite. I finally finished it after the book club meeting and was glad I did.

    May 22, 2013

  • Kevin

    After reading it (okay, listening too it) and having a discussion about it, I am still not sure whether I liked it or not. I did enjoy the conversation and the get-together. I can say FOR CERTAIN I liked that. Good to see you all!

    1 · May 22, 2013

    • Wayne

      I wholly agree -- still on the fence about the book, but enjoyed the conversation and it was good to see a good mix of new and returning members!

      May 22, 2013

  • Tom R.

    Not a favorite, tho many in the group liked it.

    May 22, 2013

  • Alex M.

    I really hate to bail, you guys, but I have a million things to do in the next couple of days before I leave town. Fantastic book, though!!!

    May 21, 2013

    • Tom R.

      I was surprised that you even committed. But boo hiss anyway. Who will I drink with? Wayne and Dawn, you'd better saddle up!

      May 21, 2013

    • Wayne

      Eh, I don't know...what's prepping for Vietnam compared to discussing yet one more book about incest? And ghostly incest, at that...

      1 · May 21, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Just saw this and requested from library, but not sure I'll have it in time.

    May 16, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I didn't get the book but would like to come anyway as it sounds interesting.

      May 21, 2013

  • Tom R.

    C U all there!

    1 · May 20, 2013

  • Sarah

    I'm coming because I haven't been for a while, but I'm not sure I'm going to be able to read the book. I've had to recall it from another patron at the library and it isn't looking good.

    1 · May 13, 2013

    • Tom R.

      Come anyway. We miss you!

      1 · May 13, 2013

    • Sarah

      The person turned it in, yay! I'll read as much as I can before next week. :)

      May 16, 2013

  • Dorothy E.

    I am sorry I will miss this discussion but I will be out of town. Be sure to let me know the next book.

    May 15, 2013

  • Kim O.

    I'm really liking this book so far but I love magical realism. Maybe think of the talking cats as people in another world?

    1 · April 30, 2013

  • Tom R.

    OY. Another book with a talking cat. I'm out.

    April 29, 2013

    • Dawn

      I REALLY like this book! Don't worry, Tom: the talking cats don't last long.

      1 · April 30, 2013

    • Wayne

      I really like it too -- I had no problem getting hooked at the start.

      April 30, 2013

  • Kevin

    I downloaded this in MP3 format from the library. If any of you are like me and spend a lot of time in the car, or are just too lazy to read :-), I will be happy to share the files with you as long as you do not try to sell them on the open market or profit in any way...except emotionally or by expanded personal horizons.

    1 · April 18, 2013

    • Tom R.

      Hey Kevin: Good to know. At this point I am planning on reading it. But I'll be in touch if needed.

      April 18, 2013

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