Japanese fans rush for long-awaited Murakami sequel

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Japanese fans snapped up the latest installment of acclaimed author Haruki Murakami’s novel “1Q84” on Friday after waiting nearly a year since the first two volumes of the surreal love story was published.

A person takes one of Japanese author Haruki Murakami's books off a shelf at a book store in Tokyo November 18, 2009. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

“I’m going to stay up all night to read this,” said Ayako Arai, a 29-year-old employee at an advertising agency who grabbed her copy of the 602-page, $19 hardcover sequel.

“It’s been a while since I read volumes one and two so I’m looking forward to it ... I’ve been waiting for this.”

The first two volumes of “1Q84,” a tale of a woman named Aomame and a man named Tengo, dealt with themes such as cults, violence and loss, as well as sex, love and murder.

Dozens of people lined up late at night at bookshops in Tokyo to buy the third volume at midnight, media reported.

The books, with a title suggestive of George Orwell’s “1984” as the Japanese word for 9 is pronounced the same as the English letter Q, have been selling at an exceptional pace even for Murakami, one of the most widely read Japanese novelists in the world.

Over 2.4 million hardcover copies have been printed in total for the first two volumes of “1Q84” and 700,000 copies will be printed in the coming weeks for the latest one.

The latest volume, like the first two, has been surrounded in mystery -- only seven people at the publisher were allowed to read the manuscript and the books were sent to stores in cardboxes instead of the usual plastic wrapping.

“Some readers have told us that they don’t want to know anything about the book’s contents before they start reading,” said Yuri Iwasaki, a spokeswoman at Shinchosha Publishing Co Ltd.

The works of the 61-year-old, who has been the subject of constant media speculation as a potential winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, have been translated into more than 40 languages.

Murakami, who says that in the chaotic world after the September 11 attacks, metaphors can be even more powerful than what’s real, graduated from Waseda University in Tokyo and ran a jazz club with his wife before becoming a novelist in 1979.

“1Q84” is being translated in various countries, an official at Murakami’s copyright office said, but could not comment on details.

Editing by Miral Fahmy