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From the book
Today when I awoke from a nap the faceless man was there before me. He was seated on the chair across from the sofa I'd been sleeping on, staring straight at me with a pair of imaginary eyes in a face that wasn't.
The man was tall, and he was dressed the same as when I had seen him last. His face-that-wasn't-a-face was half hidden by a wide-brimmed black hat, and he had on a long, equally dark coat.
"I came here so you could draw my portrait," the faceless man said, after he'd made sure I was fully awake. His voice was low, toneless, flat. "You promised you would. You remember?"
"Yes, I remember. But I couldn't draw it then because I didn't have any paper," I said. My voice, too, was toneless and flat. "So to make up for it I gave you a little penguin charm."
"Yes, I brought it with me," he said, and held out his right hand. In his hand—which was extremely long—he held a small plastic penguin, the kind you often see attached to a cell phone strap as a good-luck charm. He dropped it on top of the glass coffee table, where it landed with a small clunk.
"I'm returning this. You probably need it. This little penguin will be the charm that should protect those you love. In exchange, I want you to draw my portrait."
I was perplexed. "I get it, but I've never drawn a portrait of a person without a face."
My throat was parched.
"From what I hear, you're an outstanding portrait artist. And there's a first time for everything," the faceless man said. And then he laughed. At least, I think he did. That laugh-like voice was like the empty sound of wind blowing up from deep inside a cavern.
He took off the hat that hid half of his face. Where the face should have been, there was nothing, just the slow whirl of a fog.
I stood up and retrieved a sketchbook and a soft pencil from my studio. I sat back down on the sofa, ready to draw a portrait of the man with no face. But I had no idea where to begin, or how to get started. There was only a void, and how are you supposed to give form to something that does not exist? And the milky fog that surrounded the void was continually changing shape.
"You'd better hurry," the faceless man said. "I can't stay here forlong."
My heart was beating dully inside my chest. I didn't have much time. I had to hurry. But my fingers holding the pencil just hung there in midair, immobilized. It was as though everything from my wrist down into my hand were numb. There were several people I had to protect, and all I was able to do was draw pictures. Even so, there was no way I could draw him. I stared at the whirling fog. "I'm sorry, but your time's up," the man without a face said a little while later. From his faceless mouth, he let out a deep breath, like pale fog hovering over a river.
"Please wait. If you give me just a little more time—"
The man put his black hat back on, once again hiding half of his face."One day I'll visit you again. Maybe by then you'll be able to draw me. Until then, I'll keep this penguin charm."
Then he vanished. Like a mist suddenly blown away by a freshening breeze, he vanished into thin air. All that remained was the unoccupied chair and the glass table. The penguin charm was gone from the tabletop.
It all seemed like a short dream. But I knew very well that it wasn't. If this was a dream, then the world I'm living in itself must all be a dream.
Maybe someday I'll be able to draw a portrait of nothingness. Just like another artist was able to complete a painting titled Killing Commendatore. But to do so I would need time to get to that point. I...
- Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages, and the most recent of his many international honors is the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award, whose previous recipients include J. K. Rowling, Isabel Allende, and Salman Rushdie.
June 1, 2018
The acclaimed Japanese author's fans will not be surprised that his new novel ranges from love and war to art and isolation, but it's also an homage to The Great Gatsby. The publisher has sold more than 4.2 million copies of Murakami's 19 books across formats. With a 250,000-copy first printing.
Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
August 1, 2018
Murakami (Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, 2014, etc.) returns with a sprawling epic of art, dislocation, and secrets.As usual with Murakami, the protagonist of his latest, a long and looping yarn, does not bear a name, at least one that we know. As usual, he is an artist at loose ends, here because his wife has decided to move on. And for good reason, for, as he confesses, he has never been able to tell her "that her eyes reminded me so much of my sister who'd died at twelve, and that that was the main reason I'd been attracted to her." A girl of about the same age haunts these pages, one who is obsessed with the smallness of her breasts and worries that she will never grow to womanhood--and for good reason, too, since she's happened into an otherworld that may remind some readers of the labyrinthine depths of Murakami's 1Q84. Dejected artist meets disappeared girl in a hinterland populated by an elusive tech entrepreneur, an ancient painter, a mysterious pit, and a work of art whose figures come to life, one of them "a little old man no more than two feet tall" who "wore white garments from a bygone age and carried a tiny sword at his waist." That figure, we learn, is the Commendatore of the title, a character from the Italian Renaissance translated into samurai-era Japan as an Idea, with a capital I, whose metaphorical status does not prevent him from coming to a bad end. The story requires its players to work their ways through mazes and moments of history that some would rather forget--including, here, the destruction of Nanjing during World War II. Art, ideas, and history are one thing, but impregnation via metempsychosis is quite another; even by Murakami's standards, that part of this constantly challenging storyline requires heroic suspension of disbelief on the reader's part.Altogether bizarre--and pleasingly beguiling, if demanding. Not the book for readers new to Murakami but likely to satisfy longtime fans.
COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
August 13, 2018
Murakamiâs latest (following Men Without Women) is a meticulous yet gripping novel whose escalating surreal tone complements the authorâs 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 narratorâs 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 Amadaâs in the attic called Killing Commendatore, an allegorical adaptation of Don Giovanni. He begins two affairsâone with an older woman who sparks the novel whenever she appearsâand is commissioned by the enigmatic Mr. Menshiki to paint his portrait. Menshiki is preoccupied with a 13-year-old girl named Mariyeâan 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. Murakamiâs sense of humor helps balance the otherworldly and the prosaic, making this a consistently rewarding novel. 250,000-copy announced first printing.
- The Washington Post "Exhilarating."
- The Wall Street Journal "Some novelists hold a mirror up to the world and some, like Haruki Murakami, use the mirror as a portal to a universe hidden beyond it."
- Financial Times "No other author mixes domestic, fantastic and esoteric elements into such weirdly bewitching shades. . . . Just as [Murakami] straddles barriers dividing high art from mass entertainment, so he suspends borders between east and west."
- Esquire "[Killing Commendatore] marks the return of a master."
- The Times Literary Supplement "The complex landscape that Murakami assembles in Killing Commendatore is a word portrait of the artist's inner life."
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Fascinating. . . . Drawing on Buddhist spiritualism, metaphysics and magical realism--not to mention Lewis Carroll--Killing Commendatore finds its narrator enmeshed in a singular philosophic adventure."
- Forward "Enthralling."
- Vulture "Murakami beautifully captures the evanescence of inspiration."
- Bustle "Lovely and strange."
- The Sunday Times (London) "Wild, thrilling. . . . Murakami is a master storyteller and he knows how to keep us hooked. . . . What makes his voice so distinctive, and so captivating, is the mix of precise observation, clarity and deadpan humour."
出版社Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group