Book review: Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Title: Killing Commendatore

Author: Haruki Murakami

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Publication Date: October 9, 2018

ISBN: 9780385690690

Synopsis from Goodreads:
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 Gatsby—Killing Commendatore is a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers.


Killing Commendatore has the prose that we’ve come to expect from a typical Murakami book. Set on an isolated mountain top, this story follows an artist after his wife has left him for another man. The artists world is filled with little bit a small cast of characters who live alongside him, a painting by the famous artist whose home he now inhabits, and the strange ring of a bell that keeps him up at night. This story explores themes of love, loss, family, friendship, and loneliness throughout. Reminiscent of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles with it’s surrealist approach to the otherworldly, Killing Commenditore has its protagonist questioning what truth and existence really means for him. He questions his grasp on what is real and what is not, learning to overcome his own fears and hesitations and to take control of his life in a way he hadn’t been doing previously.

Murakami, as always, writes with mystery and strong undercurrents of the sinister. This world moves seamlessly between the real and the surreal, but it’s never clear if there is evil lurking in characters both real and seemingly imagined. I don’t think any of the characters are good or evil, per se, but their intentions and motives are never clearly defined. These characters are all reflecting on their own selves, trying to come to an understanding of their own states of being and their interaction with the world around them. Even the painting at the core of this book is interpreted constantly as a piece of self reflection on the part of the famous painter.

There is no way that one can gain everything that there is to be gained from a reading of a Murkami novel in one singular reading. This is a book to be read again and again. It needs time for digesting and for contemplation. This isn’t one you should get into if you don’t have the time to really devote to it. This novel really speaks of Murakami’s style and tone. It’s well worth the read and it’s got me itching for more.

Published by wornpagesandink

Hi! I'm Jaaron. I'm a book-obsessed blogger, writer, reader, coffee-drinker, and dog-lover. I have a B.A.H. in English Literature and a post-graduate diploma in Book and Magazine publishing. I've been fortunate to have worked in both trade and educational publishing. If you have any recommendations for excellent reads, let me know!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: