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 ...

Now We Shall Be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller – review

The English writer brings the full range of his virtuosity to bear in a Napoleonic-era tale that veers from comedy and romance to outright menace

It’s a wonder Andrew Miller is not a household name. Now 58, he has been publishing confident, controlled fiction for more than 20 years; whether he alights on 18th-century Paris or 1990s Los Angeles, his novels are always suffused with wit, grit and melancholy wisdom. He’s the kind of novelist other writers admire and readers mean to get around to, who makes it on to Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime but rarely the bestseller charts. Perhaps his excellent eighth book, a cat-and-mouse thriller set at the height of the Napoleonic wars, will change that, though the fact it’s not made this year’s Man Booker longlist is already something of a travesty.

Now We Shall Be Entirely Free opens in 1809, shortly after the Spanish ...

Book clinic: which writers can lead me inside the minds of millennials?

Sally Rooney’s confessional style and Joe Dunthorne’s satire should help a teacher understand the ‘avocado generation’

I’m teaching millennials but find it hard to know what makes them tick. Can you recommend millennial writers who would help me better understand my students?
Christina Melia, 47, Paris (originally from Ireland)

Johanna Thomas-Corr, literary critic, writes…
Ah, those millennials. So hard to pin down, aren’t they? Once denoting the generation born c1980-1995, millennial is now often used to mean “digital-era whippersnapper” or “profligate consumer of avocados”. Such is the difficulty of generalising about a generation born at the apex of individualism – but happily, this most overanalysed group is now telling its own stories.

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