An elegant cover for Haruki Murakami’s Killing Commendatore

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An elegant cover for Haruki Murakami’s Killing Commendatore

Circles are a recurring theme in the cover design for Haruki Murakami’s novels, particularly in their UK editions, where the paperback editions of his previous books (all redesigned by Noma Bar in 2012) are united by a circular motif containing an illustration individual to each title.

For the hardback edition of his new novel, Killing Commendatore, Suzanne Dean, designer and Creative Director at publisher Vintage, continues the use of circles on the cover, though the shapes are rendered in a more individual fashion, to reflect the themes of the story.

Killing Commendatore
Dean’s designs for the UK hardback edition of Killing Commendatore
Display at Japan House featuring the new novel alongside Murakami’s previous titles

Central to Killing Commendatore is a 30-something portrait painter from Tokyo who holes up in the mountain home of a famous artist after being abandoned by his wife. Here he discovers a strange painting in the attic, which unleashes a series of fantastical, surreal events: “And a circle once opened must then be closed. There are no other options.”

Holes and circles as a theme recur across the novel, and are reflected in Dean’s design, which features painted circles on the cover, the boards and the endpapers, suggestive too of the art that is also central to the story. Dean has also introduced a number of die-cut holes on the cover, revealing more coloured circles on the boards underneath.

Detail of the endpapers
Cover of UK edition of Killing Commendatore

Murakami’s novels are much renowned for their distinctive and elegant book covers, both in the UK and in the US, where the design for his titles has long been created by Chip Kidd and John Gall. You can read an interview with Kidd about his design for the US version of Killing Commendatore earlier this year here.

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