Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami review – a sprawling Gatsby for the Google age

A homage to Scott Fitzgerald’s classic is undone by too many narrative threads

In 2006, Haruki Murakami, Japan’s superstar author, fulfilled one of his lifelong dreams. He didn’t win a huge literary award (Murakami actually withdrew his name from Sweden’s alternative to the Nobel shortlist last month, tired of the speculation). Nor did he achieve his ambition of sitting at the bottom of a well. But he did manage to translate The Great Gatsby into Japanese, something he had long ago vowed to do. It turns out F Scott Fitzgerald’s jazz age classic is not only Murakami’s long-held “infatuation” but the inspiration for his entire career. Which in itself sounds rather Gatsby-esque.

Like the lovestruck millionaire, Murakami clearly believes his own decades-old obsession needs a higher purpose. So his 14th novel is a 674-page homage to Fitzgerald’s most cherished book, a sprawling, surreal Gatsby for the information age. At ...