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Extended Audio Sample Kafka on the Shore Audiobook, by Haruki Murakami Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (71,425 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Haruki Murakami Narrator: Sean Barrett, Oliver Le Sueur Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2013 ISBN: 9780804166553
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Kafka on the Shore was published in 2002 to wide acclaim. It has been awarded by The New York Times with placement on the 10 Best Books of 2005. The story has incited the public to ask many questions about its meaning, to which the author responded in multiple entries on his website for the novel.

In this novel, there are two distinct but interrelated plots, between which the narrative runs back and forth, each plot alternating by chapter. Every other chapter tells the story of Kafka, a teenager, who has run away from his father's home to avoid an Oedipal curse. On a quest to find his mother and sister he is entangled in a series of adventures, but eventually finds safety in a secluded library. He spends his days there reading a translation of A Thousand and One Nights, until police catch up with him in connection to a violent crime.

Intertwined is Nakata's story, that of an old man whose job is to find lost cats. One particular case puts him on a journey that leads him far from home, for the first time in his life. He becomes friends with a truck driver who later becomes very attached to him. Although it appears that Nakata and Kafka's stories might collide throughout the novel, their tales perhaps take place on a metaphysical plane rather than in reality. In fact, the author Murakami has said that there are multiple riddles contained in the novel that will arise with more than one reading.

Haruki Murakami is a Japanese writer and translator. He is considered an important personality in post-modern literature, though his work has often been criticized by the Japanese literary establishment.

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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An insistently metaphysical mind-bender.”

    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

  • “A striking experience in consciousness expansion.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Absorbing…Murakami is of course himself an immensely reader-friendly novelist, and never has he offered more enticing fare than this enchantingly inventive tale.”

    Kirkus 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
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2005 New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year
  • Winner of the 2006 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A 2005 ALA Notable Book Finalist for Fiction
  • A 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sauceboat | 2/18/2014

    " Ask me and I'll tell you I don't remember any of it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tom | 2/4/2014

    " Absorbing and weird but as usual unravelled towards the finish into loose ends aplenty! Got to love it though! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Zac | 1/24/2014

    " In the end, I found myself finishing the book because I had begun the journey. It had hooked me enough to finish it, but not enough for me to necessarily enjoy the read. The questions of realities, shadows and the bending of time were interesting and played with expertly. In the end, there was a feeling as though a page was missing here and there that would have made the experience more pleasant. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alice | 12/13/2013

    " One of the best books I've encounter with. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 XXHaLxx | 12/13/2013

    " This is the most strange book I've ever read. It was a good read though , Kafka and the old guy kept me intrigued throughout the book.The ending keeping the track of the narration was good and surprising. All the characters seem profound and don't hesitate to articulate their thoughts. Would recommend to readeers interested in meatphysical , beyond the natural entities. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cat | 12/10/2013

    " After enjoying IQ84 so much I wanted to venture into more Murakami books. Although I enjoyed the characters in this book I felt that by the end I had a lot of unanswered questions and to be honest it didnt leave me wanting more. A good read but not as good as some of this other works. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kathy Karpinski | 11/15/2013

    " Just not a fan. This was my first HM novel and I found the story to have potential, but was left feeling disappointed. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kate Oco | 8/28/2013

    " very readable. Murakami's style of tousling metaphor and allegory is just so fine. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mahir | 11/26/2012

    " Mind-blowing! Saya harus belajar banyak dari Murakami bagaimana cara membuat cerita gila dan seolah tak ada batas bagi imajinasi, tapi tetap bermakna dan jauh dari kesan pointless. One of my favorites! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leslie | 5/15/2012

    " Thanks to Alicen for introducing me to the worlds created by Haruki Murakami. A truly different book that I loved immersing myself into every night. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Frida | 4/4/2012

    " One of Murakami's better books. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sonia Hawes | 3/27/2012

    " Probably my favourite book ever - certainly one of my eight desert island books, surreal and original you never know what is going to happen or where the book will lead and if you read it again you'll notice other things FANTASTIC! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robert Johnson | 1/20/2012

    " A lot of symbolism in this book. It was written in an almost surreal style. I liked this book the least of all of his books I have read. I think the Wind-up Bird Chronicles is a better book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Suzanne | 1/7/2012

    " I enjoyed reading this strange and inventive novel and definitely want to read more Murakami. It's hard to deeply connect with the characters, but their oddness and fated circumstances drew me into their reality. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nina | 8/31/2011

    " His books are so weird and fascinating. I really enjoyed trying to puzzle out what was happening. Some aspects of the book, such as the main character's relationships with women were disturbing to me, but it was still worth reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 David Daewoong | 8/25/2011

    " I appreciated the mini- tutorials about literature, classical music, Greek mythology, history, movies, and more. The overall plot and narrative were okay. The novel kept me busy and I'm very pleased to have finish another Murakami adventure. Now, on to his next book ; Norwegian Wood. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rebecca Macneal | 6/9/2011

    " Awesome. A true masterpiece of connections, depth and readability "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dessy | 5/23/2011

    " One of my fav. book of all time. Bold, absurd and romantic at the same time. The details are amazing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kimchi | 5/23/2011

    " I'm now a believer. Murakami is always better the second time around. I guess I was too young when I first read this book, 13 to be exact. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nina | 5/23/2011

    " Love Murakami, but disappointed here. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathryn | 5/22/2011

    " This was a very strange book, but I really liked it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ses | 5/21/2011

    " Stephanie recommended this book to me. I enjoyed it alot "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ana | 5/19/2011

    " Murakami comes to us as one of the most talented contemporary authors. Through his eyes we see how the world of dreams, reality and these days society come together with no apparent conection... yet stories merge in a fantastic way... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Scott | 5/18/2011

    " The sort of book I would (and probably need to) read again. The Chicago Tribune quote on the cover, that the book is "a striking experience in consciousness expansion" is accurate. For some reason, reading KOTS made me feel more warmly toward cats. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sharee | 5/16/2011

    " Murakami is an author that really puts you right into it. You feel like you're the one who is narrating the story. His use of coincidence really catches you off guard. An interesting take on the coming-of-age novel. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shawn | 5/15/2011

    " A bit pretentious and sometimes contrived, I still liked the magical realism in this Japanese popular novel.
    "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Brittnee | 5/13/2011

    " A disappointing, strange mess of a book with an even more horrible ending. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chris Fox | 5/12/2011

    " This was not my favourite of Murakami. But it's fantastically written, and very deep. Definitely a major facet in his writing. "

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About the Author
Author Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami is a Japanese author of fiction and nonfiction works. His books and stories have been bestsellers in Japan as well as internationally, with his novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage topping the New York Times bestsellers list in 2014. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages. Murakami is the recipient of numerous awards, including the World Fantasy Award, the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, the Franz Kafka Prize, and the Jerusalem Prize.

About the Narrator

Sean Barrett has won numerous Earphones Awards and two prestigious Audie Awards for his audiobook narrations. He started acting professionally at the age of twelve and has since appeared on television and in film in Minder, Brush Strokes, War and Peace, Sons and Lovers, and Return to Oz. His stage credits include performing in the West End with Noël Coward in his Suite in Three Keys. He has worked extensively on BBC Radio and has also narrated several television series, including People’s Century and Crash.