International best-selling novelist Haruki Murakami shows no signs of slowing his creative output, and lately, he even has been keeping his readers up late.
On April 18, about 50 Murakami fans turned up at Kinokuniya bookstore in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward just before the stroke of midnight to grab the first copies of the author’s latest book, “Onna no inai otokotachi” (Men Without Women). The book went on sale right after the clock struck 12.
“All I can say is that I'm really happy, I was all worked up,” said Masato Hayakawa, 32, who missed the last train home to be the first customer in line at the event organized by publisher Bungeishunju Ltd. The sale was preceded by a countdown. “Now, I've got something to read in the taxi.”
Murakami book releases can be major events. “Onna no inai otokotachi” comes out just over a year after “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage,” which had a total of 1 million copies decided for its first week. That book spiked classical music sales as well because of a mention of Hungarian composer Franz Liszt’s piano suites, known collectively as “Years of Pilgrimage,” in the work.
“Onna no inai otokotachi” might not have the same impact, since it is a collection of six short stories--“Drive My Car,” “Yesterday,” “Dokuritsu Kikan” (Body without organs), “Scheherazade” and ”Kino”--all of which have been published separately. The single debut piece is the titular “Onna no inai otokotachi.”
“Drive my Car” has already received some dubious publicity. The story upset a municipality in Hokkaido after it appeared in the December 2013 issue of the literary journal Bungeishunju because a passage insinuated that some townspeople are smokers who regularly toss their cigarette butts out of car windows. The name of the community has been changed in the new book version of the story.
The title of the new book itself might tell something of Murakami’s literary ambition: “Onna no inai otokotachi” is the Japanese title given to Ernest Hemingway’s (1899-1961) collection of short stories “Men Without Women.”
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