Introduction & Overview of Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

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Kafka on the Shore Summary & Study Guide Description

Kafka on the Shore Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading and a Free Quiz on Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.

Kafka on the Shore (2005), Haruki Murakami's tenth novel, marks a slight departure from his previous work. While most of Murakami's protagonists are thirty-something men who favor isolation and have unremarkable histories with women, the main character in this novel is a fifteen-year-old runaway. For the most part, though, Kafka on the Shore is classic Murakami. The story is rich in references to music and Western culture, dreamy scenarios that expose the spooky underbelly of ordinary life, utterly unadorned language, and elements of magical realism that challenge the reader's grasp of reality.

Murakami's intention was to write a story about a boy who escapes his dangerous father and goes in search of his long-lost mother. The myth of Oedipus is thrown in along with a cast of supporting characters that includes an old man who talks to cats, a female hemophiliac who lives as a gay man, and two World War II soldiers trapped in time. The familiar themes of isolation, reality versus fantasy, and the connection between past and present are handled with Murakami's trademark humor.

Kafka on the Shore marks another critical and popular success for Murakami. According to the Washington Post, Kafka on the Shore is "an excellent demonstration of why [Murakami is] deservedly famous [for] postmodern fiction that's actually fun to read." The New York Times Book Review enthused, "Anyone can tell a story that resembles a dream, it's the rare artist, like this one, who can make us feel that we are dreaming it ourselves."

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