Thursday, April 11, 2013

One of the first articles in English following the release:

New Murakami novel unveiled to excited fans in Japan

TOKYO: Haruki Murakami’s new novel was unveiled early Friday in Japan, with excited fans getting their latest fix of one of modern literature’s most talked-about authors.

“I cannot sleep tonight at least until I finish reading this book,” Kazuki Yamashita, 20, said after finally getting hold of a copy of the hard-cover book.
“I had my imagination going all over the place since the title was very long and intriguing.”Excited “Harukists” were told virtually nothing about the book, which was under a tight embargo until midnight Friday (1500 GMT Thursday), except for its Japanese-only title: “Shikisai wo Motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to Kare no Junrei no Toshi”.
The official English title for the Japanese-language book is “Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage”.
About 100 zealous fans lined up at Daikanyama T-Site bookstore in Tokyo, which flung open its doors at midnight to cater to the demands of the most dedicated acolytes of the surrealist.
Dozens of media crews flocked to the bookstore, with many broadcasters airing the live countdown to the launch.
Murakami, who divides his time between Japan and the United States, is rarely seen in public, lending further mystique to works praised for their lyrical surrealism and fantastical characters.
“All the characters of his novels are very attractive. Many of the stories may be surreal, but Murakami’s writing makes readers feel that kind of world may be real somehow,” said Yamashita.
Another “Harukist”, Ryosuke Kawai, 26, said he was caught off guard by the cover of the book, which has an illustration of colourful candles.
“The title says ‘colourless’. What does this illustration mean? I cannot wait to read it,” he said.
The secrecy surrounding its release has not prevented the new novel, Murakami’s first in three years, from racing up the book charts.
Online giant Amazon Japan had taken 20,000 pre-orders by the weekend and publisher Bungeishunju said its initial print run would be an astonishing 500,000 copies — roughly one for every 250 people in Japan.
The absence of any concrete details had sparked speculation about the work of an author who delights in setting riddles for characters and readers alike.
Literary critic Yoshinori Shimizu earlier suggested that, when written in the alphabet, “Tazaki Tsukuru”, which appears to be a man’s name, is an anagram of “Tsuzuku Tikara”, a phonetic rendering of a phrase that could mean “continuing strength”.
“Is it ‘continuation’ in a positive sense or a negative way?” he told the Sankei Shimbun.
“It is extremely interesting as it seemingly alludes to something to do with the time after the major quake disaster” of 2011 that destroyed Japan’s northern Pacific coastal communities, he told the newspaper.
Others have pointed out that the title may be a deliberate echo of a collection of piano pieces called “Years of Pilgrimage” by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt.
But fans may be given a glimpse behind the mask in the ancient city of Kyoto next month at a one-night public “interview”, which is expected to be heavily over-subscribed.
Murakami’s most recent work, the three-part “1Q84”, baffled and delighted readers with its parallel universes in which the lives of a female murderer and a male novelist intertwine.
“1Q84”, which can be read as “1984” in Japanese, a deliberate nod to George Orwell’s dystopian tale of the same name, proved a worldwide phenomenon.
Murakami’s novels, which have drawn international acclaim and been translated into around 40 languages, include “Norwegian Wood”, “Kafka on the Shore” and “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”.
Ahead of the book’s release, Murakami, frequently mentioned as a possible Nobel literature laureate, had been typically tight-lipped.
“I intended to write a short story at first, but it has become a long piece naturally as I go on,” he said.
“This does not happen often in my case, maybe for the first time since ‘Norwegian Wood’ I guess.”
”’1Q84′ was a story somewhat like a roller coaster, so I wanted to write something a bit different from that. I had no idea what it would be like until I started writing.”

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