'Beguiling... Murakami is brilliant at folding the humdrum alongside the supernatural; finding the magic that's nested in life's quotidian details' Guardian
When a thirty-something portrait painter is abandoned by his wife, he holes up in the mountain home of a famous artist. The days drift by, spent painting, listening to music and drinking whiskey in the evenings. But then he discovers a strange painting in the attic and unintentionally begins a strange journey of self-discovery that involves a mysterious ringing bell, a precocious thirteen-year-old girl, a Nazi assassination attempt and a haunted underworld.
A stunning work of imagination, Killing Commendatore is a surreal tale of love and loneliness, war and art.
Murakami s latest (following Men Without Women) is a meticulous yet gripping novel whose escalating surreal tone complements the author s tight focus on the domestic and the mundane. The unnamed narrator, a talented but unambitious portrait-painter in Tokyo, discovers his wife is having an affair, quits painting, and embarks on a meandering road trip. The narrator s friend offers to let him stay in the home of his father, Tomohiko Amada, a famous, now-senile painter whose difficult secret from 1930s Vienna unfurls over the course of the book. Once situated on the quiet, mysterious mountainside outside Odawara, the narrator begins teaching painting classes and finds a hidden, violent painting of Amada s in the attic called Killing Commendatore, an allegorical adaptation of Don Giovanni. He begins two affairs one with an older woman who sparks the novel whenever she appears and is commissioned by the enigmatic Mr. Menshiki to paint his portrait. Menshiki is preoccupied with a 13-year-old girl named Mariye an intriguing character, but one whom the book has an unfortunate tendency to sexualize. At night, the narrator is haunted by a ringing bell coming from a covered pit near his house. This eventually leads him to a magical realm that includes impish physical manifestations of ideas and metaphors. His discovery provokes a pivotal, satisfying moment in his artistic development on the way to a protracted, mystic denouement. The story never rushes, relishing digressions into Bruce Springsteen, the simple pleasures of freshly cooked fish, and the way artists sketch. As the narrator uncovers his talents, the reading experience becomes more propulsive. Murakami s sense of humor helps balance the otherworldly and the prosaic, making this a consistently rewarding novel. 250,000-copy announced first printing.