Book title: Killing Commendatore (Paperback)
Author: Haruki Murakami
Publication year: 2019
Haruki Murakami is among the best Japanese authors around. Most of his books are translated into numerous languages and Murakami never disappoints his readers.
Often with the fundamental of realism, Murakami’s latest novel — ‘Killing Commendatore’ can be predictable, as it held inspiring lines of words he talked about the world. Many may argue that while this is not his best, however, it still is able to impact readers with different perspectives laid by the 71-year-old author.
The novel opens up with the unnamed protagonist, and like many of Murakami’s novels, there will always be elements of art, classical music, and tinges of cats — usually a reflection of its author. The protagonist in this novel is a commission portrait painter with a mundane marriage life.
As readers picked up the book, they could relate to the protagonist steering away from his art when he experienced ‘creative block’. That was exactly what the whole book was about — soul-searching. The protagonist, after breaking off his marriage due to his wife’s unfaithfulness, drove around for a month only to end up staying at a friend’s father’s home in the mountains.
Coincidentally, the friend’s father was a famous veteran painter. As death catches on to the latter, the leading character was given a chance to give life once again to the abandoned mountain house. Predictably in every Murakami’s books, the house was filled with records of classical music, which the character listens to from time to time.
There, he met a few friends who reminded him of his initial passion for art. Whether it was real friends or an ‘idea’ of a friend, the protagonist’s perspective of the world broadens through the encounters he had with them.
Overall, Murakami always stretches his readers’ imagination with his mystical scenes and beguiling experiences. He always puts his main character in mind-boggling situations and that is the beauty of it. It echoes the reality of our everyday life — predictable, yet unexpected. As individuals, we are so often placed in situations and challenges that change us.
In ‘Killing Commendatore’ page 576, one of the abstract characters of the novel said to the main, “Make fast your heart. Do not let if flounder. Should that happen, you will surely fall prey to a ‘Double Metaphor’.
“They grab hold of your true thoughts and feelings and devour them one after another, fattening themselves. That is what ‘Double Metaphors’ are. They have been dwelling in the depths of your psyche since ancient times.”
Like his previous books, Murakami loved playing with his readers’ mind. His clever choice of words allows his readers to really ponder of its real meaning. In the dialogue, he relates to the reality where the abstract character explains that the ‘Double Metaphor’ are the challenges that influence your own characteristics, and it changes you the way it wants.
Going back to the protagonist, these ‘Double Metaphor’ could be the ones that disrupt him from his already paved path. And this is something important for readers to reflect on, to “never sway away from what you are to something you are not.”
At the end of the book, on page 671, as the protagonist discusses his return to his wife, his other half laid onto him an impactful perspective. “This is my life, sure, but in the end, almost all that happens in it may be decided arbitrarily, quite apart from me. In other words, although I may presume I have free will, in fact, I may not be making any of the major decisions that affect me.”
With a total of 681 pages — one of the few thick ones from the author — it can be said that while this is not his masterpiece, the book provides yet another entertaining whimsical adventure for the readers.
As the book journeyed, it contains many unwarranted and disturbing conversations which would make you question the psychological state of the author. Nonetheless, for an avid reader of Murakami who recognises his writings, this is not one to be missed. Like his previous books, it always keeps you thinking about life in different ways and perspectives.