Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Melville House reports>

Haruki Murakami’s new novel breaks records, causes literary daze


Copies of the new novel.
Though we are still shifting our copy of 1Q84 around the apartment, moving it from the “I’ll never read this” shelf to the “I really want to read this, but maybe this summer” shelf to the “It’s going to be embarrassing if I haven’t read this sooner rather than later” shelf, Haruki Murakami has not been waiting around for us to catch up.
He’s got a new novel out,Shikisai wo Motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to Kare no Junrei no Toshi (“Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage”), and it’s climbing the charts in Japan in ways even unprecedented for Murakami novels.

Because of the book’s remarkable popularity, its release has been met with an array of responses, with commenters running the gamut from people who have just finished reading a 370-page book very quickly, the opinions of people midway through a book, and the opinions of people who have only looked at the jacket. There’s a palpable daze in news reports with quotations from the public like:
 “The book has strong messages and many encouraging words.” –Michiko Mamuro, bookstore clerk
“It was different from what I was expecting, in a good way. I want to read a sequel.” –Miwako Kitamura, photojournalist
“His newest book has an impressive beginning.” –Chiaki Yoshimura, senior staff writer at Asahi Shimbun
“The title says ‘colourless’. What does this illustration mean? I cannot wait to read it.” –Ryosuke Kawai, eager reader
Bookstores around Japan had midnight launch parties with fans lining up by the hundred. In an unexpected coincidence, sales of a recording that plays a part in the novel, Russian pianist Lazar Berman’s recording of Liszt’s“Years of Pilgrimage” suites,  have also gone through the roof. All of which suggests that a significant proportion of the Japanese population is, at this very moment, sleep-deprived, Liszt-addled, and musing in a melancholy, overdetermined way about color. Romanticism has hit Japan!
Sal Robinson is an editor at Melville House, and co-founder of the Bridge Series, a reading series focused on translation.
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