A weird book of magical realism, full of disturbing symbolism and metaphor.
15-year-old Tamura runs away from home, taking on the name Kafka, after the Russian author, as an alias. Not quite sure how to make it on his own, a young woman he meets on the train helps him, and then he finds refuge in a small, private library, where the clerk becomes a friend, and the librarian, an older woman, is strangely alluring. But soon, his trouble is more than he thought it would be, when he hears on the news that his wealthy father has been found violently murdered, and he is a suspect.
Gradually, it becomes clear that this is a retelling of the story of Oedipus, who was cursed to kill his father and sleep with his mother - and some difficult realizations seem inevitable.
Interwoven with this story is that of Nakata, an elderly, brain-damaged man who has the ability to talk to cats. Someone seems to be stealing neighborhood cats, and his search for a missing animal leads him to a sinister figure who goes about in the guise of advertising characters, and who tries to force Nakata into an act of horrific violence...
Metaphysical and philosophical, this is a very interesting book, but personally, not my favorite by Murakami.