• Kyodo


Publisher Bungeishunju Ltd. said it will print 400,000 more copies of comedian Naoki Matayoshi’s novel “Hibana” (“Spark”), bringing the total number past the 2 million mark amid robust sales after it won the prestigious Akutagawa Prize last month.

The print run is expected to reach 2.09 million, a record among works awarded the Akutagawa Prize, according to a survey by an industry body. The book, which was already a best-seller before winning the award, depicts exchanges between a struggling young comedian and a senior comedian.

Among the novels awarded the prize, the number of copies reached 1.32 million for Ryu Murakami’s “Kagirinaku Tomei Ni Chikai Blue” (“Almost Transparent Blue”), which won the prize in 1976, and 1.25 million for Risa Wataya’s “Keritai Senaka” (“The Back One Wants to Kick”), which received the award in 2003.

Since “Hibana” won the award for pure literature on July 16, Bungeishunju has upped the print run several times.

Matayoshi is the first comedian to receive the Akutagawa Prize in its 80-year history.

The book at times has been hard to find in stores nationwide, but this has gradually been alleviated. The publisher decided on the additional printing in anticipation og an increase in sales after the award ceremony in late August.

Matayoshi, 35, said in a statement, “I am glad to learn that my work ‘Hibana’ will be delivered to many readers.”

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