A labyrinthine, magical realist new novel from the acclaimed author of Kafka on the Shore and IQ84. A thirty-something portrait painter in Tokyo is abandoned by his wife and finds himself holed up in the mountain home of a famous artist, Tomohiko Amada. When he discovers a previously unseen painting in the attic, he unintentionally opens a circle of mysterious circumstances.
...a meticulous yet gripping novel whose escalating surreal tone complements the author’s tight focus on the domestic and the mundane ... 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. Murakami’s sense of humor helps balance the otherworldly and the prosaic, making this a consistently rewarding novel.
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.