No surprise, this is a great book and you would not expect anything else from Murakami. As far as I am concerned, it is the best book, I listened to this year and this also partly due to the fantastic reading job, Sean Barrett and Oliver Le Sueur did.
Murakami’s story reminded me to a certain extend of Sophocles' tragedy of Oedipus. In both cases there is an identical gruesome prophecy, but whereas it ends in disaster in the old Greek play, it leads to deliverance and liberation in Murakami’s narrative.
It is a fantastic story with strong, archetypal pictures and scenes, but far from your typical fantasy novel. The ingredients for that are there, talking cats, fish and leeches falling from the sky and a mysterious entrance stone to another world, but regardless of all the metaphysical attire, it is a story about love, loss and the search for a meaningful life.
The protagonists of the story are the 15 year old teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who ran away from home to escape from his heartless father and Nakata, an innocent, endearing old man, who suffers from a wartime affliction. They never meet in person, but they are closely linked by fate. Both of them set out on an odyssey, Kafka to find his long-lost mother and sister and Nakata to find the mysterious entrance stone.
Of course Murakami knows, how to tell a story. The prose is colorful - an excellent translation obviously - and there is more than a pinch of humor now and then, e.g. when we meet Johnny Walker from the whisky label and Colonel Sanders from KFC in person.
This book is more than just entertainment. It resonated very strongly with me and long after I listened to it, it stayed on my mind and I could not help, but think about Kafka, Nakata and their friends.