By MARI YAMAGUCHI
TOKYO (AP) — Fans of Haruki Murakami rushed to Japanese bookstores on Feb. 24 to get his latest work with an esoteric title.
“Kishidancho Goroshi,’’ or “Killing Commendatore,’’ is a two-part story about a 36-year-old portrait painter and what happens after his wife divorces him and he moves into an old house on a mountainside west of Tokyo. The mysterious events include meeting a neighbor and finding the painting that shares the book’s title.
Murakami has described it as a very strange story.
Devoted fans of the internationally acclaimed and best-selling writer lined up outside stores on the eve of the book launch.
Shinchosha Publishing Co. said overseas availability is not yet known. No details are known yet on translations.
Murakami, 68, usually shies away from the limelight, although he has spoken out on issues such as world peace and nuclear energy.
He began writing while running a jazz bar in Tokyo after finishing college. His 1987 romantic novel “Norwegian Wood’’ was his first best-seller, establishing him as a young literary star.
The preceding novel “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage’’ was released in Japan in 2013, and a collection of short stories, “Men Without Women,’’ was published in 2014. His million-seller “1Q84’’ in 2009 was one of his longest novels, with the Japanese edition coming out in three volumes.
The book launch coincided with “Premium Friday’’ government initiative to encourage office workers to leave early for a longer weekend.
The publisher has said 1.3 million copies are planned for first-edition prints, a huge number for Japanese literature that usually comes in the several thousands. It is available at Kinokuniya Bookstore in Seattle Chinatown.