Review of ‘Killing Commendatore’ by Haruki Murakami

What an intriguing novel this was. Philosophical, mundane, sinister, metaphorical and erotic. It was completely unpredictable and I liked that. The only issue I had with the book was its unnecessary length of over 600 pages. Normally I wouldn’t consider reading such a long book, but the premise drew me in and ultimately I found it a rewarding read. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone new to Murakami’s work, however.

The protagonist is a portrait painter whose wife has left him. He ends up living in a house on a mountain which belonged to a famous artist. Strange events start to happen, linked to a painting he discovers hidden in the attic. It’s a very slow-burning story and is not particularly plot-driven. It’s more about ideas than events. I enjoyed the themes of art, music and creativity that were at the heart of the novel.

Strangely, for such a long book I find it difficult to write much about it. Maybe I’m still processing the experience. It’s the fourth Haruki Murakami novel I’ve read. As always with translated fiction, it’s never going to be the same as reading it in the original language. This translation by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen (2018) has American terms and spelling, so in consequence the narration seemed quite American to me. I don’t mean this in a negative way, just that the reading experience depends a lot on the translation.

First published in two volumes in Japan, 2017.

9 thoughts on “Review of ‘Killing Commendatore’ by Haruki Murakami”

  1. Great review! I loved Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore and wonder which one should be my next Murakami. This one could definitely be a possibility. I am not a fan of long books either, but I find it slightly easier, when I listen on audio.

  2. I plan on tackling Norwegian Woods this month myself. The only one I’ve read is Kafka on the Shore, like Stargazer, and really loved the magical realism in it. His ideas are so unpredictable, it was fascinating. Killing Commendatore seems to have something similar too! Great review. Thanks for sharing! 😀

    1. I agree they can be challenging! If you are interested in the process of making art and also the link between art and music, you will likely find this one an interesting read.

  3. Great review! I’ve been thinking of reading a Murakami book for some time. Is there any you would recommend to someone new to his work?

    1. Thanks! 🙂 I always recommend Norwegian Wood, which is the first of his I read. It’s not too long and contains some of the themes you get in his other books but is (I think) accessible.

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