Fans in Japan rush to get Murakami book with esoteric title

Fans in Japan rush to get Murakami book with esoteric title

TOKYO — Fans of Haruki Murakami rushed to Japanese bookstores Friday to get his latest work with an esoteric title.

“Kishidancho Goroshi,” or “Killing Commendatore,” is a two-part story about a 36-year-old portrait painter and what happens after his wife divorces him and he moves into an old house on a mountainside west of Tokyo. The mysterious events include meeting a neighbour and finding the painting that shares the book’s title.

Murakami has described it as a very strange story.

Devoted fans of the internationally acclaimed and bestselling writer lined up outside stores on the eve of the book launch.

Shinchosha Publishing Co. said overseas availability is not yet known. No details are known yet on translations.

Murakami, 68, usually shies away from the limelight, although he has spoken out on issues such as world peace and nuclear energy.

He began writing while running a jazz bar in Tokyo after finishing college. His 1987 romantic novel “Norwegian Wood” was his first bestseller, establishing him as a young literary star.

The preceding novel “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” was released in Japan in 2013, and a collection of short stories, “Men Without Women,” was published in 2014. His million-seller “1Q84” in 2009 was one of his longest novels, with the Japanese edition coming out in three volumes.

The book launch coincides with “Premium Friday” government initiative to encourage office workers to leave early for a longer weekend.

Unfortunately, fans in Japan’s northern main island of Hokkaido would have to wait until Saturday to get their books because a freight train carrying the shipment had an accident, Shinchosha said.

The publisher has said 1.3 million copies are planned for first-edition prints, a huge number for Japanese literature that usually comes in the several thousands.

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Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

Find her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/mari-yamaguchi

Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press

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