This work definitely falls into the alternate reality/surreal/magical realism cluster of Murakami's works. We follow the adventures for several key characters simultaneously and how their fates entwine. First, we follow 15 year old Kafka Tamura (his alias, I can't remember his real name). He's fighting a fate his father has drummed into him that was unavoidable -- he will kill his father and sleep with his mother and sister. Pretty much classic Oedipal with a sister thrown in. Like Oedipus, he tries to thwart this fate by running away so that it doesn't come true. Thus, begins the interesting odyssey.
This story starts out slower than 1Q94 and Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World. It really takes awhile before the connections become more evident (even though it is less obtuse than Hardboiled). I think one of the major themes is dealing with maternal abandonment as well as the incompleteness of living in the past or solely in the present. We also have the concept of shadows.
The other characters were also incredibly fascinating. I was really intrigued with Nakata's thread and also wondered about Hoshino's role as well. Plus, I'm a sucker for talking cats.
While less obtuse than Hardboiled, this book is mired in the surreal and alternate reality and threads. This differs from his other body of work which have dealt primarily with human relationship on a less magical realm so to speak. Readers who loved 1Q84 or Hardboiled will enjoy this tale.