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Murakami's novel a hit in Japan before it arrives

MURAKAMI'S novel a hit in Japan before it arrives

Everything is secret, except the author and title. But the first novel in five years by Japan's Haruki Murakami has become a hit even before its arrival in stores Friday.

"It is amazing. People are craving his latest novel," said Takashi Machii, spokesman for the book's publisher Shinchosha, which has raised its first printing to 480,000 copies, up from 380,000 after orders flooded in.

Murakami, 60, is one of the most widely translated Japanese writers alive, with global best-sellers such as "Norwegian Wood," ''Kafka on the Shore" and "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle." He is considered a top Japanese candidate for the Nobel Prize in literature.

"Norwegian Wood," his 1987 love story that shot him to stardom, has sold 9.2 million copies in Japan alone.

In a clever marketing scheme, the contents of his new novel have been kept secret. Fans ordering the book know nothing but the title, "1Q84," which can be read as "1984" in Japanese.

Shinchosha began selling the 1,000-page, two-volume work at a handful of stores in Tokyo on Wednesday. One store sold 840 copies in just one day, it said.

It is unclear when the work will be translated into English, according to Shinchosha.

Murakami, who has lived in the U.S., including stints at Princeton and Harvard, is fiercely private. He was not immediately available for comment.

Murakami has also written works of nonfiction, including a piece based on interviews with victims of the 1995 deadly nerve gas attack in Tokyo, and translated works by Raymond Carver, Truman Capote, John Irving and J.D. Salinger.


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