The opening pages of a Haruki Murakami novel can be like the view out an airplane window onto tarmac. But at some point between page three and fifteen-it's page thirteen in Kafka On The Shore-the deceptively placid narrative lifts off, and you find yourself breaking through clouds at a tilt, no longer certain where the plane is headed or if the laws of flight even apply.
Joining the rich literature of runaways, Kafka On The Shore follows the solitary, self-disciplined schoolboy Kafka Tamura as he hops a bus from Tokyo to the randomly chosen town of Takamatsu, reminding himself at each step that he has to be "the world¹s toughest fifteen-year-old." He finds a secluded private library in which to spend his days-continuing his impressive self-education-and is befriended by a clerk and the mysteriously remote head librarian, Miss Saeki, whom he fantasizes may be his long-lost mother. Meanwhile, in a second, wilder narrative spiral, an elderly Tokyo man named Nakata veers from his calm routine by murdering a stranger. An unforgettable character, beautifully delineated by Murakami, Nakata can speak with cats but cannot read or write, nor explain the forces drawing him toward Takamatsu and the other characters.
To say that the fantastic elements of Kafka On The Shore are complicated and never fully resolved is not to suggest that the novel fails. Although it may not live up to Murakami's masterful The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Nakata and Kafka's fates keep the reader enthralled to the final pages, and few will complain about the loose threads at the end.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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.
This stunning and elegiac novel by the author of the internationally acclaimed has sold over 4 million copies in Japan and is now available to American audiences for the first time. It is sure to be a literary event.
Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.
A poignant story of one college student's romantic coming-of-age, takes us to that distant place of a young man's first, hopeless, and heroic love.
Japan's most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II.
In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria.
Gripping, prophetic, suffused with comedy and menace, is a tour de force equal in scope to the masterpieces of Mishima and Pynchon.
Hear the Wind Sing (風の歌を聴け Kaze no uta o kike?) is the first novel by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. It first appeared in the June 1979 issue of Gunzo (one of the most influential literary magazines in Japan), and in book form the next month. The novel was adapted by Japanese director Kazuki Ōmori in a 1981 film distributed by Art Theatre Guild. An English translation by Alfred Birnbaum appeared in 1987.
It is the first book in the so-called "Trilogy of the Rat" series of independent novels, followed by Pinball, 1973 (1980) and A Wild Sheep Chase (1982), before the later epilogue Dance Dance Dance (1988). All four books in the series have been translated into English, but Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973 (which are realist novels slightly differing from the author's later style) were never widely distributed in the English-speaking world, having only been published in Japan by Kodansha under their Kodansha English Library branding (for English Foreign Language learners), and both only as A6-sized pocketbooks. Translations by Ted Goossen of "Hear the Wind Sing" and "Pinball, 1973" are scheduled to be released by Knopf on August 4, 2015 under the title "Wind, Pinball".
Sumire is in love with a woman seventeen years her senior. But whereas Miu is glamorous and successful, Sumire is an aspiring writer who dresses in an oversized second-hand coat and heavy boots like a character in a Kerouac novel.
Sumire spends hours on the phone talking to her best friend K about the big questions in life: what is sexual desire, and should she ever tell Miu how she feels for her? Meanwhile K wonders whether he should confess his own unrequited love for Sumire.
Then, a desperate Miu calls from a small Greek island: Sumire has mysteriously vanished…
Born in 1951 in an affluent Tokyo suburb, Hajime— in Japanese—has arrived at middle age wanting for almost nothing. The postwar years have brought him a fine marriage, two daughters, and an enviable career as the proprietor of two jazz clubs. Yet a nagging sense of inauthenticity about his success threatens Hajime’s happiness. And a boyhood memory of a wise, lonely girl named Shimamoto clouds his heart.
Tsukuru Tazaki had four best friends at school. By chance all of their names contained a colour. The two boys were called Akamatsu, meaning “red pine”, and Oumi, “blue sea”, while the girls’ names were Shirane, “white root”, and Kurono, “black field”. Tazaki was the only last name with no colour in it.
One day Tsukuru Tazaki’s friends announced that they didn’t want to see him, or talk to him, ever again.
Since that day Tsukuru has been floating through life, unable to form intimate connections with anyone. But then he meets Sara, who tells him that the time has come to find out what happened all those years ago.
The six stories in Haruki Murakami’s mesmerizing collection are set at the time of the catastrophic 1995 Kobe earthquake, when Japan became brutally aware of the fragility of its daily existence. But the upheavals that afflict Murakami’s characters are even deeper and more mysterious, emanating from a place where the human meets the inhuman.
An electronics salesman who has been abruptly deserted by his wife agrees to deliver an enigmatic package—and is rewarded with a glimpse of his true nature. A man who has been raised to view himself as the son of God pursues a stranger who may or may not be his human father. A mild-mannered collection agent receives a visit from a giant talking frog who enlists his help in saving Tokyo from destruction. As haunting as dreams, as potent as oracles, the stories in are further proof that Murakami is one of the most visionary writers at work today.
Haruki Murakami, a writer both mystical and hip, is the West’s favorite Japanese novelist. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Murakami lived abroad until 1995. That year, two disasters struck Japan: the lethal earthquake in Kobe and the deadly poison gas attacks in the Tokyo subway. Spurred by these tragic events, Murakami returned home. The stories in are set in the months that fell between the earthquake and the subway attack, presenting a world marked by despair, hope, and a kind of human instinct for transformation. A teenage girl and a middle-aged man share a hobby of making beach bonfires; a businesswoman travels to Thailand and, quietly, confronts her own death; three friends act out a modern-day Tokyo version of . There’s a surreal element running through the collection in the form of unlikely frogs turning up in unlikely places. News of the earthquake hums throughout. The book opens with the dull buzz of disaster-watching: “Five straight days she spent in front of the television, staring at the crumbled banks and hospitals, whole blocks of stores in flames, severed rail lines and expressways.” With language that’s never self-consciously lyrical or show-offy, Murakami constructs stories as tight and beautiful as poems. There’s no turning back for his people; there’s only before and after the quake.
These six stories, all loosely connected to the disastrous 1995 earthquake in Kobe, are Murakami (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle; Norwegian Wood) at his best. The writer, who returned to live in Japan after the Kobe earthquake, measures his country’s suffering and finds reassurance in the inevitability that love will surmount tragedy, mustering his casually elegant prose and keen sense of the absurd in the service of healing. In “Honey Pie,” Junpei, a gentle, caring man, loses his would-be sweetheart, Sayoko, when his aggressive best friend, Takatsuki, marries her. They have a child, Sala. He remains close friends with them and becomes even closer after they divorce, but still cannot bring himself to declare his love for Sayoko. Sala is traumatized by the quake and Junpei concocts a wonderful allegorical tale to ease her hurt and give himself the courage to reveal his love for Sayoko. In “UFO in Kushiro” the horrors of the quake inspire a woman to leave her perfectly respectable and loving husband, Komura, because “you have nothing inside you that you can give me.” Komura then has a surreal experience that more or less confirms his wife’s assessment. The theme of nothingness is revisited in the powerful “Thailand,” in which a female doctor who is on vacation in Thailand and very bitter after a divorce, encounters a mysterious old woman who tells her “There is a stone inside your body…. You must get rid of the stone. Otherwise, after you die and are cremated, only the stone will remain.” The remaining stories are of equal quality, the characters fully developed and memorable. Murakami has created a series of small masterpieces.
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“[ is] a bold new advance in international fiction…. Youthful, slangy, political, and allegorical.”
“Murakami’s writing injects the rock ‘n’ roll of everyday language into the exquisite silences of Japanese literary prose.”
“[Murakami belongs] in the topmost rank of writers of international stature.”
“Greatly entertaining…. Will remind readers of the first time they read Tom Robbins or … Thomas Pynchon.”
“Murakami captures a kind of isolation that is special in its beauty, and particular to our time…. His language speaks so directly to the mind that one remembers with gratitude what words are for.”
“[ begins as a detective novel, dips before long into screwball comedy, and at its close—when the dead speak—becomes a tale of possession. That such unruly, disjunctive elements mingle harmoniously within it is perhaps the signal feat in this highly accomplished piece of craftsmanship.”
“A world-class writer who has both eyes open and takes big risks…. If Murakami is the voice of a generation, then it is the generation of Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo.”
«An entertaining mix of modern sci-fi, nail-biting suspense, and ancient myth ... a sometimes funny, sometimes sinister mystery spoof . . . [that] also aims at contemporary human concerns.» —
«The plot is addictive.» —
«There are novelists who dare to imagine the future, but none is as scrupulously, amusingly up-to-the-minute as ... Murakami.» —
«[has the fascination of a well-written detective story combined with a surreal dream narrative . . . full of appealing, well-developed characters.»
«A world-class writer who . . . takes big risks. ... If Murakami is the voice of a generation, then it is the generation of Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo.»
«All the hallmarks of Murakami's greatness are here: restless and sensitive characters, disturbing shifts into altered reality, silky smooth turns of phrase and a narrative with all the momentum of a roller-coaster. . . . This is the sort of page-turner [Mishima] might have written.»
«[Murakami's] writing injects the rock 'n' roll of everyday language into the exquisite silences of Japanese literary prose.» —
«One of the most exciting new writers to appear on the international scene.» —