TOKYO—The eagerly-awaited new novel from Haruki Murakami set for release this week will have an initial hardback printrun of half a million copies, the Japanese publisher said Tuesday.
The new novel is expected to hit bookstores on Friday, with major outlets planning to open early at 8:00 am (2300 GMT, Thursday), while at least one large seller in Tokyo will fling open its doors at midnight.
Online book giant Amazon Japan had received more than 20,000 pre-orders for the new novel as of Saturday, faster than any other book by Murakami, publishing house Bungeishunju Ltd. said.
Half a million copies is the largest initial hardback printrun for the Japanese publisher, one of the country’s biggest.
The new book’s title is only available in Japanese for now: “Shikisai wo Motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to Kare no Junrei no Toshi.” An unofficial translation renders it: “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and the Year of his Pilgrimage.”
It will be Murakami’s first work in three years after the final installment of “1Q84″ — a three-part novel containing the usual Murakami mixture of parallel universes, bizarre characters and surrealist happenings as the lives of a female murderer and a male novelist intertwine.
“1Q84,” which can be read as “1984” in Japanese, proved a worldwide phenomenon.
Both the publisher and Murakami have kept a thick veil on what the new novel is about, with the author releasing only two short statements on it thus far.
“I intended to write a short story at first, but it has become a long piece naturally as I go on. This does not happen often in my case, maybe for the first time since ‘Norwegian Wood’ I guess,” Murakami said in one statement.
The other statement said: “‘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.”
Murakami’s novels, which have drawn international acclaim and been translated into almost 40 languages, include the titles “Norwegian Wood,” “Kafka on the Shore” and “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.”
The author, who divides his time between the US and Japan, has a huge following, with fans praising his lyrical and surreal prose, which often takes as its subject Japanese people living on the margins of a homogenous society.