It's Raining Sardines

STUART ISETT

CULT FICTION: Murakami's postmodern version of the Oedipus tale sold 550,000 copies in its first month in Japan

It's an old story: boy meets girl, girl turns out to be his mother, boy kills father. Sophocles told it 2,400 years ago, as have many authors since. But few have tackled the Oedipal tale with as much wit, verve and retail success as Japan's Haruki Murakami has in Kafka on the Shore. The book sold 550,000 copies in its first month on his home soil in 2002, inspiring a sequel comprised of selections from the 8,870 e-mail critiques Murakami received and his 1,220 replies. Kafka has become a best seller in Germany, South Korea and China, and now the English-language...

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