With no other details released except the book’s title, fans of Japanese author Haruki Murakami eagerly waited in lines on Thursday night to be among the first to purchase his new novel at its midnight release. As one of modern literature’s most popular authors around the globe, known for his stories of the mundane meeting the surreal, the release of Shikisai wo Motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to Kare no Junrei no Toshi, or “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” in English, had one 20 year old he wouldn’t go to sleep until he finished it.
The book’s official release was only confirmed in February, and there was a strict embargo on any information about the story until the Friday release, so as to prevent anything from spoiling it for fans. Book store all over Tokyo opened at midnight to begin sales, with a number of media outlets broadcasting a live countdown. As Murakami’s first novel in three years, following the hit 1Q84, the new title has already raced up the sales charts, setting an internet pre-order record in Japan with roughly 20,000 preorders on Amazon.com by the weekend. Bungeishunju, the title’s publisher in Japan, has said the initial printing is a staggering 500,000 copies — or roughly one for every 250 people in Japan.
The often publicity-shy author, known for witting riddles both for his characters and readers, will be participating in a rare, one-night interview with the public in Kyoto next month. Revealing next to nothing about his new work, as he often does leading up to each release, Murakami has admitted that the novel will be very different from 1Q84, which he describes as “like a roller coaster,” and that he originally intended to write a short story, but it naturally evolved into a longer piece. While he knew he wanted to write something different this time, he says “I had no idea what it would be like until I started writing.”
Prior to 1Q84, which was released in three parts in Japan, Murakami’s most popular titles include Norwegian Wood, Kafka on the Shore, and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. His books have drawn international acclaim and been translated into nearly 40 languages, and he is speculated to be an upcoming winner of the Nobel Literature Award.
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