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"A stunning work of art," the New York Observer wrote of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, "that bears no comparisons," and this is also true of this magnificent new novel, which is every bit as ambitious, expansive and bewitching. A tour-de-force of metaphysical reality, Kafka on the Shore is powered by two remarkable characters. At fifteen, Kafka Tamura runs away from home, either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister. And the aging Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction, finds his highly simplified life suddenly upset. Their odyssey, as mysterious to us as it is to them, 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 fall from the sky. There is a brutal murder, with the identity of both victim and perpetrator a riddle. Yet this, like 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.