Killing CommendatoreHaruki MurakamiHarvill Secker, Penguin Random House There are bizarre contrasts in most of the works of prolific Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. See-sawing between the surrealism of the subconscious and a stark, bland realism, they shuffle sense with nonsense and veer from the mundane to the inexplicable. Murakami admits that he often freestyles, writing without knowing what will happen next — a case of the novelist conjoining his characters in a journey of self-discovery.

His books engage near-universal themes: personal isolation, confusion, and disconnection in an impersonal age of increasing change and uncertainty. Murakami captures the disorientation of modern life and conveys a sense of yearning — for love, release from loneliness, relief from ennui. One of his translators, Ted Goossen, humanities professor at Toronto’s York University, believes Murakami’s voice is the clue to his popularity, rather than identifiable themes or specific storylines. “Th...

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