The English translation of Haruki Murakami’s 14th novel, “Killing Commendatore,” hit bookshelves in October 2018 and, at over 700 pages, it is a veritable brick. And, perhaps due to this massive length, one would be hard-pressed to give a coherent account of the plot.
PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, Fiction.
After his wife, Yuzu, divorces him, our 36-year-old (unnamed) narrator, a portrait artist of some repute, goes on a meandering journey of self-discovery, eventually taking up residence in the house of a famous painter, Tomohiko Amada. His discovery of a mysterious painting in the attic, Amada’s masterpiece, “Killing Commendatore,” is a catalyst (or is it?) for a series of events that tie the novel’s principal characters — a reclusive, wealthy gentleman; an awkward 13-year-old; Amada; a 2-foot-high manifestation of “an Idea”; and the narrator — together.
There are plenty of Murakami-isms scattered throughout the text: a sense of urban ennui, vanishing and reappearing objects, jazz and classical music records, under-developed female characters, cringe-worthy sex scenes and portals to parallel worlds. Occasionally there are flashes of his trademark ability to bring a sense of wonder to the everyday dissatisfactions everyone has with their lives. But too often his prose is rambling and repetitive.
Die-hard Murakami fans might find something to enjoy in the writer’s trademark, albeit under-edited, style, but one gets the feeling Murakami has gotten too comfortable with his own tropes and needs to shake things up in future works.