Killing Commendatore – Haruki Murakami – Audible Book Review
Narrated by: Kirby Heyborne
Length: 28 hrs and 27 mins
The main protagonist of this book is a 36 year old unnamed portrait painter. He awakes from an afternoon nap to find a man with no face sitting on a chair beside him. He is not scared of the man and recognises him from his past. There is a debt to be paid and our artists has to sketch the man to allow this to be repaid. He takes out his paper and pen and starts to sketch the man, but struggles to find a way to represent this mysterious stranger.
And so begins this new novel by Haruki Murakami, which again delves into the supernatural world, where you’re never quite sure what to make of what you see. The book revolves around the young artist who is going through a divorce with his wife, after six years of marriage. The ending of the marriage was abrupt and unexpected, for our protagonist at least. He goes off the rails for a couple of months before ending up in a remote house, owned by the famous traditional Japanese artist Tomohiko Amada. Amada is now living in a nursing home and suffering from dementia. When he is searching through the attic he finds a painting called ‘Killing Commendatore’. It seems that no one knows of the existence of this work, which may well be amongst the finest pieces by this well-known artist. The painting along with a strange pit in the extensive gardens of the house opens a way to a bizarre world.
This work by Murakami is his 14th novel and his first work since the ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’ which was published in 2013. The writer is known for such works as 1Q84 (2011) and Kafka on the Shore (2005) and they generally include a surrealist feel, where anything can happen. This book is another massive volume, with a sub plot featuring a millionaire neighbour Menshiki which is worthy of a book in its own right. There is a further tale about Tomohiko Amada which tells of his adventures in Vienna during the second world war which is also developed at some length. There is a strange mix of the mundane and the bizarre, which seems all the more surprising by comparison.
The book has a wide vision of the world, with an emphasis on the artist and their place in society. It has a lot of loose ends as it moves from one plot line to another. If you’re expecting it all to be tied up neatly at the end, you’ll be disappointed but there is something very engaging about the journey. While this isn’t Murakami’s finest work, it does give us another view into his wide and sprawling imagination. If you’re a fan of his work, this is probably already on your reading list. If he’s a new name to you, this is as good a place to start as any.
The book is narrated by Kirby Heyborne, the American actor and musician. He does a good job with the various characters and you’re easily able to differentiate between them due to his intonation and differing vocal styles.