Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the Shore

Book - 2005
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Random House, Inc.
Kafka on the Shore displays one of the world’s great storytellers at the peak of his powers.

Here we meet a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who is on the run, and Nakata, an aging simpleton who is drawn to Kafka for reasons that he cannot fathom. As their paths converge, acclaimed author 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, in what is a truly remarkable journey.

Baker & Taylor
An unlikely alliance forms between Kafka Tamura, a fifteen-year-old runaway, and the aging Nakata, a man who has never recovered from a wartime affliction, as they embark on a surreal odyssey through a strange, fantastical world.

& Taylor

The unlikely alliance between Kafka Tamura, a fifteen-year-old runaway, and the aging Nakata, a man who has never recovered from a wartime affliction, brings dramatic changes to both characters as they embark on a surreal odyssey through a strange, sometimes violent, sometimes fantastical world. Reader's Guide available. Reprint. 100,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 2005
Edition: 1st American ed
ISBN: 9781400079278
Characteristics: 436 p. ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Gabriel, J. Philip


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jan 05, 2019

An engaging tour through Murakami's world. I read and then listened to this book and I think the pictures are better in the written form.

Feb 24, 2017

I have mixed feelings about this book. Borrowing various bits and pieces from Shintoism, Murakami has invented a clever system of meta-physics but he doesn't explain it. Instead, he slowly reveals how it works through the narrative. If you don't clue in to what's happening to the characters under the surface, you'll just be confused by the seemingly random events (and talking cats) in the story. On the other hand, Murakami's writing continues to impress, and I found the book's highly emotional ending very satisfying.

DCPL_JohnB Nov 10, 2016

It’s a fascinating, surreal book. This is a world where weird stuff happens, where something can be both true and false simultaneously, where the consequences of actions echo a hundred miles away. Yet the characters deal with all this the best they can.

But the story is also an enigma; complete understanding seems to drift just out of reach. Most questions here don’t have answers—most mysteries remain unsolved. No two readers will have the same interpretations. It can be confusing, even mind-bending. Yet Murakami’s style is so effortless and simple that it belies his underlying riddles. If you want someone to spell it out, plain and logical—if you’re uncomfortable with drawing your own conclusions, making sense of untied plot threads, or accepting magical realism, this probably won’t be an enjoyable book for you.

That said, this is one of the best books I've ever read. Open to interpretation and filled with wonder, it's sure to leave a strong impression.

Dec 16, 2015

Japan's Haruki Murakami is so consistently great that it can be easy to take him for granted. "What's that? Another lyrical, slightly surreal Murakami novel with ghosts and talking cats? How nice." His big, but swift novel "Kafka on the Shore" weaves two stories together, one about a teen runaway and the other about a slow-witted old man who may be a killer, in a way that is ruminative, funny and observant. There are plenty of oddball touches (characters named Johnnie Walker and Col. Sanders, a ghost, leeches raining from the sky), but Murakami always grounds his characters in reality and there's a strong emotional component that keeps it from being too whimsical. Give this man a Nobel.

Jun 17, 2015

My second Murakami novel and he's done it again. The spirals, twists, oddities, engaging characters and intriguing story are all there making this another wonderful read.
Kafka is a magical tale about facing your inner insecurities and having the courage to accept and forgive. It is an interesting way of telling a story with this objective and Murakami pulls it off with a magical, ripple in the fabric of reality story-telling way that draws you in.
The weirdest things happen, two storylines that seem unrelated spiral slowly towards each other, the characters are endearing (Nakata is a truly wonderful individual).
There are parts that aren't explained but that's okay...that's the way Life is.

KateHillier Mar 15, 2015

That was interesting and I do mean good interesting. I've already gone and put a second book of his on hold. This is categorized as science fiction but it's really that plus magical realism plus coming of age and a few other things. The book does get quite odd - time and space are weird, people can leave their bodies for whatever reason, there are weird not-god like entities but it really is all quite fascinating and really interesting to read. Considering this is translated from Japanese that's even more impressive.

There are two narratives here. One is of freshly minted 15 year old "Kafka" who has decided to run away from home. The other is of a simple old man who can talk to cats and uses that skill to find lost ones. The former has a disturbing prophecy laid on by his father, the latter's advantages and disadvantages are caused by a bizarre illness that befell him as a child. Both characters end up on a road trip both physical and otherwise. Overall it's a dense but light read if that makes any sense and I found myself really enjoying it.

WVMLStaffPicks Feb 01, 2015

In signature Murakami style, fantastical events mix with daily life in this book. We follow the parallel stories of 15-year old Kafka, as he flees his childhood home, and the elderly Nakata as he leaves Tokyo after a murder disrupts his life. The journeys of both characters are boldly original and their fates compellingly readable.

Jan 04, 2015

Ah. I found this book to be most riveting, and it was hard to put down. I have not read many Murakami books, but this one is my favorite so far. Murakami leads you through a world of fantasy, mystery, and unexpected events while relaying the story of young run away "Kafka," and how he deals with growing up, lust, love, trust, and doing the right thing. The most magical of his novels, I found myself eagerly turning the page to see what would come next. Enjoy.

norareyeurs Dec 30, 2014

metaphysical thought, subtly lodged in seemingly ordinary characters; a story present and past, of death and the paranormal as part of the normal that had me going onto the next chapter until I might as well have finished the book. the only reason not to is to savor a masterful, extraordinarily original story, the writing is engagingly down to earth.

Dec 02, 2014

reading this is like waking from a hideously confusing dream into a wondrous nightmare.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability
Jul 31, 2017

KaylaAlexander thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Sep 26, 2012

GregTatum thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


Add a Quote
Laura_X Apr 24, 2017

It's like Tolstoy said. Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness a story.

Apr 05, 2015

"Strength itself becomes your morality... The strength I'm looking for isn't the kind where you win or lose. I'm not after a wall that'll repel power coming from outside. What I want is the kind of strength to be able to absorb that outside power, to stand up to it. The strength to quietly endure things - unfairness, misfortune, sadness, mistakes, misunderstandings."


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Find it at CSM

To Top