Killing Commendatore – Haruki Murakami


The epic new novel from the internationally acclaimed and best-selling author of 1Q84
In Killing Commendatore, a thirty-something portrait painter in Tokyo is abandoned by his wife and finds himself holed up in the mountain home of a famous artist, Tomohiko Amada. When he discovers a previously unseen painting in the attic, he unintentionally opens a circle of mysterious circumstances. To close it, he must complete a journey that involves a mysterious ringing bell, a two-foot-high physical manifestation of an Idea, a dapper businessman who lives across the valley, a precocious thirteen-year-old girl, a Nazi assassination attempt during World War II in Vienna, a pit in the woods behind the artist’s home, and an underworld haunted by Double Metaphors. A tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art—as well as a loving homage to The Great GatsbyKilling Commendatore is a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers

My review
Killing Commendatore is a strangely intense novel (fushigi is the Japanese word that comes to mind – mysterious, strange, odd). I was drawn into the world of the protagonist, an artist, who has lost his inspiration. His wife announces that she wants a divorce and he retreats to the mountains, living in the home and spirit of famous artist, Tomohiko Amada. Once he stumbles upon a mysterious painting, all sorts of strange things happen. The story is subtle in meaning and beautifully written, as are the other Murakami novels I have read. I love his style of writing and the vivid descriptions of thoughts, feelings and the world of the artist.
I couldn’t write this review without commenting on the presentation of the novel. This is absolutely one of the most beautiful books on my bookshelf. The dustcover is an artwork in itself and the visible dots of colour popping through are of the colour palette on the hardcover surface. Inside there is a sketch of two owls and calligraphy brush painting at the end of the book.
The plot is simple, yet thought provoking, leaving me with a wabi sabi feeling of a moment I had in Japan, touring Takayama with a local artist. I love that I was transported to a quiet space in Japan where the culture is felt through the pages. The simplicity is what I truly loved about this novel. It is refreshing to read something simple, yet filled with depth and meaning.
Each time I read a Murakami book I feel that I am reading a novel with hidden life lessons and this one is no exception. I particularly appreciate Murakami’s literary intelligence and thorough research, gaining knowledge of art and an inside view of an artist’s mind and precious moments of creative process. I felt armed with knowledge and that I had been a part of a literary artwork after reading Killing Commendatore. The only reason that this wasn’t a five star read for me is that some parts seemed too long and repetitive.
I would not hesitate to recommend this novel. Murakami fans will no doubt find enjoyment from the writing as I did.


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