04:18 24 February 2017
Murakami's 1st multivolume novel in 7 yrs goes on sale
TOKYO, Feb. 24, Kyodo
Avid fans of Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami flocked to bookstores in Japan early Friday to buy his first multivolume novel in seven years, which hit the shelves at midnight.
Some stores organized special sales events for "Kishidancho Goroshi" ("Killing Commendatore") for people eager to thumb through the novel soon after release, including Sanseido Co., which allowed customers to stay in its store in Tokyo's Jimbocho area overnight.
"I want to read as much as possible, though it will badly affect my work...I was drawn into the story in the first pages of the book," said a 56-year-old office worker based in Tokyo.
In Osaka's Dotombori downtown area, a Tsutaya store also organized a similar midnight campaign unveiling the novel on the count of three on a gigantic panel.
But people in Hokkaido were disappointed at an announcement by publisher Shinchosha Publishing Co. that the derailment of a freight train Thursday had caused a one-day delay in delivery of the Murakami novel.
Shinchosha said it is planning to print a total of 1.3 million copies of the novel, comprising two books. The pre-release figure is large for Japanese literature, with publication of first editions usually numbering in the several thousands.
Murakami, 68, one of Japan's best-known contemporary novelists, last released a multivolume novel, "1Q84," between 2009 and 2010.
Murakami accepted the Jerusalem Prize in 2009 for his "artistic achievements and love of people," becoming the first non-European-language writer to receive the Israeli literary prize.
Murakami's novel "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage" hit shelves in April 2013 and a collection of short stories titled "Onna no Inai Otokotachi" ("Men Without Women") was released in April 2014.
The publisher announced in late November that Murakami would release a new novel in February but did not disclose details at the time.
"We decided to keep the story secret considering the author's wish" to keep readers' minds clear of any advance knowledge, a Shinchosha official said.
An editor in the industry said, "It may be hard to expect many more full-fledged novels by Mr. Murakami given his age."
Murakami debuted with a novel titled "Hear the Wind Sing" in 1979, which won him the Gunzo literature prize for up-and-coming writers.
"Norwegian Wood," a 1987 novel named after a Beatles song that catapulted Murakami to fame in Japan and around the world, became a blockbuster hit. It tells of a college student's bittersweet coming of age in Tokyo in the 1960s.