“The Wind Cave”
by Haruki Murakami
translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel
from the September 3, 2018 issue of The New Yorker

This week, for better or for worse, The New Yorker is again presenting an excerpt from a novel: Haruki Murakami’s 2017 novel Killing Commendatore, translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel. I’ve never quite been on the right wavelength to fully enjoy anything I’ve read by Murakami, but I’m glad there are so many fans out there who are looking forward to this book, which will hit shelves on October 9 (you can read M.A. Orthofer’s early review here).

Are any of you Murakami fans? If so, is it nice to get an early excerpt or do you just wait for the book? Is there anyone out there who will be picking up the book based on this excerpt? Avoiding it based on the excerpt?

And, of course, let us know how you like “The Wind Cave.”

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By |2018-08-27T13:02:53+00:00August 27th, 2018|Categories: Haruki Murakami, New Yorker Fiction|Tags: |7 Comments


  1. David August 27, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    I have read Murakami before – both short stories and novels – and liked his work a lot. I have a couple of his books on my “Why Aren’t You Reading This Already, Idiot!” list. But I’m going to skip this excerpt unless others can make a strong case that it works as as if it were a stand-alone story. I believe (although I’m not sure) the excerpt comes from near the start of the novel, which is also mark in its favour. But for now, I’ll wait for the novel and if I feel like reading some Murakami I have a couple of other books and collections of stories I can turn to anyway.

  2. Diana Cooper August 27, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    I’m tired of excerpts from novels being passed off as short stories. They remind me of “previews of coming attractions” and have a whiff of commercialism about them that puts me off. I do admit, however, that I was so taken by an excerpt from Ian McEwan’s book “Saturday” in the New Yorker that I immediately hunted it down and bought it as soon as it came out. I still prefer actual short stories to one slice from the cake of a novel, though.

  3. David August 27, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    Diana, I am right with you on that! I read “Of Windows and Doors” by Mohsin Hamid when The New Yorker published it in 2016 and based on that got and read the novel (Exit West) from which it was extracted and quite liked it as well. But I was a little bit distracted when reading the book by my memory of the extract, especially since in this case the short story version was not just plucked out of the novel, but a substantial rewriting of a section of it. So even when reading extracts or excerpts of other sorts of carvings of novel that I like, it can be problematic as well. That’s how I came to the decision to skip them all.

  4. Julian Wyllie August 27, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    “Killing Commendatore” has been an anticipated read for me this year, so much so that I went ahead and reread “Norwegian Wood,” the only Murakami novel I really like, as well as “Wind/Pinball” “South of the Border…” and “A Wild Sheep Chase.” I tried “1Q84” and couldn’t get through it. Overall, Murakami has always been the kind of writer that I want to like but I don’t usually see what’s very brilliant.

    I don’t mind excerpts. Usually I’ll read them just to confirm a purchase I already planned or didn’t plan to make. With that said this excerpt wasn’t very interesting to me, but part of me still wants to see the entire body of work to try and understand how this fits. The sections were easy to read, nothing too fancy, and while I won’t call it dull I can’t say I was very excited, either.

    For those who don’t skip it and like it, I’d like to know what you thought. The reading for me felt hollow but I can see someone extracting something more interested than I did.

  5. kensuiyim August 28, 2018 at 9:46 pm

    If I hadn’t been told this was an excerpt of a novel, I wouldn’t have been able to tell. However, now that I do know, I see that it seems too perfectly packaged. It doesn’t have that full, open ended quality of so much contemporary short fiction. It feels like somebody, to borrow a film editing word, spliced a bit that would seem neatly packaged. I’m thinking specifically of all the references to Alice. I Guess this could be what people mean by excerpts seeming commercialized. I prefer realist Murakami to absurdist Murakami and i like how he reaches for pathos but I’m not sure its fully achieved. I would give the novel. A try though i wish he wouldn’t pander to the west so much.

  6. Larry Bone August 29, 2018 at 12:24 am

    That is an interesting comment about Murakami pandering to the West. He seems to tailor Japanese culture for Western sensibilities. He has a sense of crafting the story so smoothly from beginning to end, carefully crafting every element like O. Henry or a Carpenters’ song. It’s beautiful to listen to/read but theme and action seem underdeveloped, the style dipping slightly negative almost like careful but somewhat obscure emotional shading. The Carpenters’ music is still very popular in Japan and the perfection of the sound dropped out of favor in the West because after some length of time, the finished perfect quality no longer appealed. Murakami sort of tinkers with the formalism of a story giving an old time fantasy feel tweeked and gently torqued up with bits of realism which keep it from falling off a more modern reader’s radar. Difficult to make much sense of but beautiful to read.
    Larry B.

  7. Ken September 7, 2018 at 2:38 am

    I also did not feel that this seemed like an excerpt. I found it moving and enjoyed it. I don’t know if I have much more to say than that but maybe that’s enough sometimes.

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