500,000 copies of latest Murakami book printed

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

A half a million copies of internationally acclaimed author Haruki Murakami’s new book have been printed as excitement builds for the reclusive author’s latest work, which goes on sale Friday.

The book, “Shikisai wo Motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to Kare no Junrei no Toshi,” now being unofficially translated as “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage,” is Murakami’s first work since the final installment of his “1Q84″ trilogy was released in 2010.

The new book, published by Bungei Shunju Ltd., already went into a third printing before even going on sale, and Shigeki Okawa, a managing editor at the publisher, called the 500,000-copy print run monumental.

“It’s record-breaking, and possibly the largest advance print run ever,” Okawa said, noting an English translation is being discussed.

“1Q84″ was translated into English and published in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. It received mixed reviews. Some critics called the intricate plot surreal, with its parallel universes and offbeat characters, favorably comparing Murakami’s attention to detail to Charles Dickens. Others, however, criticized it for being cliched and repetitive.

But “1Q84″ proved popular with overseas readers. In November 2011, it was No. 2 on Amazon.com’s books of the year. Murakami’s previous works, including “Norwegian Wood” “Kafka on the Shore” and “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle,” have been translated into English as well, and were generally well-received.

As was the case with “1Q84,” Murakami’s publisher has not released any details of the “Shikisai” plot. But the story is rumored to be connected to the March 11, 2011, Tohoku megaquake and tsunami. Major bookstores nationwide will give the book its own space, and some even plan special promotional events.