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Publisher's Summary

Jack Kerouac’s classic novel about friendship, the search for meaning, and the allure of nature

First published in 1958, a year after On the Road put the Beat Generation on the map, The Dharma Bums stands as one of Jack Kerouac's most powerful and influential novels. The story focuses on two ebullient young Americans - mountaineer, poet, and Zen Buddhist Japhy Ryder, and Ray Smith, a zestful, innocent writer - whose quest for Truth leads them on a heroic odyssey, from marathon parties and poetry jam sessions in San Francisco's Bohemia to solitude and mountain climbing in the High Sierras.

©1958 Jack Kerouac (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"In [On the Road] Kerouac's heroes were sensation seekers; now they are seekers after truth...the novel often attains a beautiful dignity, and builds towards a moving climax." (The Chicago Tribune)

"In his often brilliant descriptions of nature one is aware of exhilarating power and originality...the entire cast of characters is presented with that not unrefreshing blend of naivete and sophistication that seems to be this author's forte." (The New York Times Book Review

"Full of sparkling descritions of landscape and weather, light falling through trees, the smell of snow, the motion of animals...Jack Kerouac is a writer who cannot be charged with dullness." (The Atlantic

Featured Article: 25+ Quotes About the Power of Kindness


Kindness is the quality of being considerate, compassionate, generous, gentle, and caring towards others without expecting anything in return. Often described as a virtue, kindness is also a strength—in fact, it may be one of humanity's greatest superpowers. Whenever you need a little encouragement or gentle reminder, turn to these quotes from authors who understand the power of kindness and express it quite remarkably.

What listeners say about The Dharma Bums

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Lyrical Rendition

I had read Dharma Bums and many other of Kerouac's books years ago and would say that they influenced me greatly. I thought it would be interesting to see how they translated to audio. I really didn't think they would because of Kerouac's rambling freestyle writing. I was wrong. The narrator had me in a joyful trance and brought back the emotions I had when I first read the novel. This is one of Kerouac's less frantic pieces and highly recommended to both fans and those who have not read or listened to him before. It was fun to listen to.

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Stupendous narration!

The narrator brought so much dimension and liveliness to Kerouac's writing, making voices for the various characters (in a very non-annoying way) and giving Kerouac the same emphatic tone with which he writes. Highly recommend.

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A beautiful performance of an amazing novel

It was an absolute delight to listen to this book. It’s long been a favorite of mine. Ethan Hawke truly embodies the spirit and soul that is Kerouac and brings each amazing character to life in this beautiful story of self discovery, friendship, exploitation, wilderness, and soulful
wonder.

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Sublime

Hawke does Kerouac a words justice
Perfect message for all times especially the ones we are in now

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Ethan Hawke is killing i!

A great rendition of a timeless classic. More Ethan Hawke reading Kerouac please! Thank you.

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So good

I listened to it twice! Such a timeless book! Spontaneous prose by the best to do it... highly recommended book!

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Hawke great but …

I read Dharma Bums some 25 years ago. Listening to it now was enjoyable thanks to Hawke’s performance. But I missed the magic in seeing the words. Gonna read it now with my eyes!

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Ethan Hawke + Jack

Amazing and fulfilling experience. Listened to this story while driving and walking the Santa Cruz and Los Gatos areas. Ethan Hawke must read for On The Road!! His dramatic skills will transport to a place that resides deep within this story. Bravo Ethan!!!

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The joyful exuberance of master jack Kerouac

This is a beautiful book with simple deep prose illuminating the simple wonders of the natural world, and enshrining the wisdom of Gary Snyder, ecologist and poet, who appears in the book as Jaffa Rider.

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Not my favorite Kerouac

I loved On The Road, but I found Dharma Bums drastically less engaging. It felt like there were so many opportunities to describe and detail characters that weren't taken.