• Kyodo News


Readers hungry for a new book by internationally acclaimed novelist Haruki Murakami have already turned his first work in five years into an instant best seller.

A total of 960,000 copies of the two-volume series “1Q84” had been sold by Saturday since it went on sale May 29, sending its publisher scrambling to make additional copies.

The plot of the story was initially a mystery, and little effort to publicize the book was made before it debuted. Now it is known to have been inspired by George Orwell’s novel “1984.”

Shinchosha Publishing Co. said sales of the two-volume “1Q84” have already surpassed those of Murakami’s previous novel, “Umibe no Kafka” (“Kafka on the Shore”), which was published in 2002 and sold a combined 738,000 copies.

This time, Shinchosha printed 200,000 copies of “Book 1” and 180,000 of “Book 2,” only to have to scramble for five straight business days to print additional copies after receiving what one official described as a “tremendous reception.”

Before the novel went on sale, the publisher only announced the name and price — ¥1,890 for each volume — as well as the date of its release without giving away anything about the story. And that advertising approach appears to have paid off.

“When we published ‘Umibe no Kafka,’ quite a few people told us that they wanted to read (new) books by Mr. Murakami without any advance knowledge, so this time we discussed it with him and decided to give them nothing,” the Shinchosha official said.

Murakami’s books have been translated into about 40 different languages and garnered global acclaim. The 60-year-old has won such foreign literary honors as the Jerusalem Prize and the Franz Kafka award. His name has been floated as a future Novel Prize laureate.

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