“Murakami is like a magician who explains what he’s doing as he performs the trick and still makes you believe he has supernatural powers . . . But while 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.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s—1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.
With Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami gives us a novel every bit as ambitious and expansive as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which has been acclaimed both here and around the world for its uncommon ambition and achievement, and whose still-growing popularity suggests that it will be read and admired for decades to come.

This magnificent new novel has a similarly extraordinary scope and the same capacity to amaze, entertain, and bewitch the reader. A tour de force of metaphysical reality, it 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. Their odyssey, as mysterious to them as it is to us, is enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerizing events. Cats and people carry on conversations, a ghostlike pimp employs a Hegel-quoting prostitute, a forest harbors soldiers apparently unaged since World War II, and rainstorms of fish (and worse) fall from the sky. There is a brutal murder, with the identity of both victim and perpetrator a riddle–yet this, along with everything else, is eventually answered, just as the entwined destinies of Kafka and Nakata are gradually revealed, with one escaping his fate entirely and the other given a fresh start on his own.

Extravagant in its accomplishment, Kafka on the Shore displays one of the world’s truly great storytellers at the height of his powers.
With the same deadpan mania and genius for dislocation that he brought to his internationally acclaimed novels A Wild Sheep Chase and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami makes this collection of stories a determined assault on the normal. A man sees his favorite elephant vanish into thin air; a newlywed couple suffers attacks of hunger that drive them to hold up a McDonald's in the middle of the night; and a young woman discovers that she has become irresistible to a little green monster who burrows up through her backyard.

By turns haunting and hilarious, The Elephant Vanishes is further proof of Murakami's ability to cross the border between separate realities -- and to come back bearing treasure.





Some of the stories in this collection originally appeared in the following publicatons: The Magazine (Mobil Corp.): "The Fall of the Roman Empire, the 1881 Indian Uprising, Hitler's Invasion of Poland, and the Realm of the Raging Winds" (in a previous translation; translated in this volume by Alfred Birnbaum), The New Yorker: "TV People" and "The Wind-up Bird and Tuesday's Women" (translated by Alfred Birnbaum), "The Elephant Vanishes" and "Sleep" (translated by Jay Rubin), and "Barn Burning" (in a previous translation; translated in this volume by Alfred Birnbaum) Playboy: "The Second Bakery Attack" (translated by Jay Rubin, January 1992).
 
The elephant vanishes / stories by Haruki Murakami; translated from the Japanese by Alfred Birnbaum and Jay Rubin.—1st Vintage International ed.
In 1995, the physical and social landscape of Japan was transformed by two events: the Kobe earthquake, in January, which destroyed thousands of lives, and the poison-gas attacks in the Tokyo subways in March, during the morning rush hour. Following these twin disasters, Haruki Murakami abandoned his life abroad and returned home to confront his country’s grief. The subway attack led to his recent Underground. And out of the quake come these six stories, set in the months between natural catastrophe and man-made terrorism. His characters find their resolutely normal everyday lives undone by events even more surreal (yet somehow believable) than we have come to expect in his fiction.

An electronics salesman, abruptly deserted by his wife, is entrusted to deliver a mysterious package but gets more than he bargained for at the receiving end; a Thai chauffeur takes his troubled charge to a seer, who penetrates her deepest sorrow; and, in the unforgettable title story, a boy acknowledges a shattering secret about his past that will change his life forever.

But the most compelling character of all is the earthquake itself—slipping into and out of view almost imperceptibly, but nonetheless reaching deep into the lives of these forlorn citizens of the apocalypse. The terrible damage visible all around is, in fact, less extreme than the inconsolable howl of a nation indelibly scarred—an experience in which Murakami discovers many truths about compassion, courage, and the nature of human suffering.
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