Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages, and the most recent of his many honors is the Yomiuri Literary Prize, whose previous recipients include Yukio Mishima, Kenzaburo Oe, and Kobo Abe.
In this highly surrealistic offering from distinguished Japanese author Murakami (After the Quake: Stories), two seemingly unrelated stories cleverly told in alternating chapters eventually collide and meld. In the first story, a 15-year-old assumes the alias Kafka Tamura and runs away from his home in Tokyo to Takamatsu. While there, he is befriended by a young girl, hides out in a private library, and seemingly falls in love with the library director. Meanwhile, the elderly, feeble-minded Mr. Nakata, who can talk with cats, encounters a series of unusual characters with names like Johnny Walker and Colonel Sanders. Later ensnared in a murder, Nakata leaves town and is befriended by a young man who becomes his invaluable companion. Kafka and Nakata are brought together when Nakata is compelled to search for the "entrance stone" that connects their parallel worlds. Parts of Murakami's story are violently gruesome and sexually explicit, and the plot line following Nakata is rather eerie and disturbing. Yet the bulk of this narrative is erudite, lyrical, and compelling; followers of Murakami's work should approve. Recommended for larger fiction collections.-Shirley N. Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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. Agent, Amanda Urban at ICM. 60,000 first printing. (Jan. 24) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"As powerful as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. . . . Reading
Murakami . . . is a striking experience in consciousness
expansion." -The Chicago Tribune "An insistently metaphysical
-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