STARRED REVIEW
October 2018

Killing Commendatore

By Haruki Murakami

Like all of Haruki Murakami’s stories, Killing Commendatore is vast, ambitious and composed of seemingly disparate layers that somehow all find a way to link together. It’s a meditation on loss, an exploration of the nature of art, an ode to the things we find when granted solitude and so much more. Most of all, it’s another brilliant journey through the mind of one of our greatest living storytellers.

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Like all of Haruki Murakami’s stories, Killing Commendatore is vast, ambitious and composed of seemingly disparate layers that somehow all find a way to link together. It’s a meditation on loss, an exploration of the nature of art, an ode to the things we find when granted solitude and so much more. Most of all, it’s another brilliant journey through the mind of one of our greatest living storytellers.

Killing Commendatore follows a portrait painter whose wife simply tells him one day that she’s leaving him. In response, he leaves the city, quits painting portraits and holes up in the mountain home of another famous painter, where one day while searching the attic, he discovers a seemingly lost work by the artist. The discovery of the painting—and the scene it depicts—sets in motion a bizarre and fascinating chain of events involving an odd man in a neighboring mansion, a pit in the middle of the woods, the literal manifestation of an idea and much more. One of Murakami’s most effective techniques is his economy of language, which creates a constant juxtaposition of extraordinary events and deceptively simple, unhurried prose. The painter narrates the novel, and Murakami’s depiction of his placid, passive state as the story begins only serves to underline the intensity of his subsequent journey. Like his protagonist, Murakami does not set out to impress or overwhelm, but to understand, and this intention breeds a sense of tremendous empathy with every page.

The real magic of Killing Commendatore, as with the rest of Murakami’s extraordinary body of work, lies in the way he is able to weave together so many emotional, aesthetic and philosophical concerns in such an effective way. It’s a joyously unpredictable novel, cracking itself open one piece at a time like an ancient puzzle box, and Murakami’s careful, masterful style assures the reader that it’s worthwhile to get happily lost inside.

 

This article was originally published in the October 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Killing Commendatore

Killing Commendatore

By Haruki Murakami
Knopf
ISBN 9780525520047

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