Monday, April 15, 2013

Oman Daily Observer reports on the new book

Japanese race to read new Murakami novel

Sun, 14 April 2013

By Alan Wheatley & Daniel Alvarenga — JAPANESE salarymen interrupted their commutes to buy Haruki Murakami's new novel, as papers and broadcasters raced to give the first review of one of the most eagerly anticipated books of the year. Stores opened early in Tokyo, boasting special stands stacked high with the hardback books, as businessmen, housewives and students rushed to get a copy. But the new novel, Shikisai wo Motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to Kare no Junrei no Toshi (Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage), was unveiled first to a dedicated band of followers at midnight.
Readers flocked to Tokyo's Daikanyama T-Site bookstore, which flung open its doors at exactly 12 am, bringing Murakami into that select band of authors — including Harry Potter writer JK Rowling — who can command late night loyalty. Sanseido bookstore temporarily became "Murakami Haruki-do (store)", installing a new name board to mark the release of the eagerly awaited novel.
Fans were told virtually nothing about the book ahead of the release, adding to the mystique of an author who delights in setting riddles for characters and readers alike. A skim reading of the work reveals it is the story of a young man struggling with an ordeal in his past, who uses the support offered by a romance to get back on his feet. The mass-circulation Yomiuri Shimbun managed a short article on the 370-page book in its morning editions.
Breakfast television programmes showed journalists who had been at their desks all night reading. "It's gripping," said one NHK reporter, adding he was mid-way through. The Asahi Shimbun posted what it called a "super-quick" review on its website at 7:46 am. "This is a story about a man who tries to get back into his life again," the review said. "You see the strength of a person who tries to overcome the feelings of loss and loneliness that he had amassed deep inside of himself," the Asahi said.
By Friday evening, online book reviewer Kazunari Yonemitsu revealed more about the story's plot including the secret of "colourless Tsukuru Tazaki" and an astonishing development involving a murder. "I don't think I would be criticised if I say this is the first mystery novel by Murakami," Yonemitsu wrote. The book's cover — featuring American artist Morris Louis's "Pillar of Fire" — was also the subject of debate on the micro-blog Twitter.
Ryosuke Kawai, 26, who was one of the first to get his copy at the midnight event said he had been caught off guard by its colourful stripes. "The title says 'colourless'. What does this illustration mean? I cannot wait to read it," he said excitedly. Some observers had speculated the title may be a deliberate echo of a collection of piano pieces called "Years of Pilgrimage" by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. Twitter users praised the author for the excitement he had been able to engender with the book in a nation of people hooked to smartphones.

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