Haruki Murakami returns with a new novel, Killing Commendatore. A stunning homage to The Great Gatsby, it follows a painter dealing with his separation from his wife. He then goes to stay in a famous artist’s house and discovers a mysterious painting in the attic that shares the book’s title.
It is a two-part story in one volume – Part 1: The Idea Made Visible and Part 2: The Shifting Metaphor. But what do critics and bookworms think of this work?
I found it to be a return to form, mingling the realism of Norwegian Wood with the surrealistic approach of Wind-Up Bird. Fast read for such a long book, and the writing about painting is fascinating. – Adam Dalva, 4 out of 5 stars
Like a beautiful opera that speaks to one’s soul, Murakami’s Killing Commendatore will move and enrapture you long after you turn the last page. – Diana, 5 out of 5 stars
The story requires its players to work their ways through mazes and moments of history that some would rather forget—including, here, the destruction of Nanjing during World War II. Art, ideas, and history are one thing, but impregnation via metempsychosis is quite another; even by Murakami’s standards, that part of this constantly challenging storyline requires heroic suspension of disbelief on the reader’s part.
Altogether bizarre—and pleasingly beguiling, if demanding. Not the book for readers new to Murakami but likely to satisfy longtime fans.
Killing Commendatore strips out all the bling-bling parties but retains the kernel of the tragic story about a lonely dreamer whose fantasies provide a “satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality”. The novel spins wide, exploring ideas about art, grief and rebirth with echoes of Alice in Wonderland, Don Giovanni, Bluebeard’s Castle and an 18th-century story by Ueda Akinari about a mummy who comes back to life. The result is an exhausting epic that is at once more absorbing than it deserves to be and less profound than the author intended.
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Killing Commendatore is available for P1,099 in hardcover. You can find it in NBS branches nationwide and online. Get your copy today and get to reading!
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