First Haruki Murakami book in three years launched at midnight
The wait is nearly over for thousands of readers eager to get their hands on the new novel by celebrated Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami.
At least one major bookstore in Tokyo was flinging open its doors at midnight last night to cater to the demands of the most dedicated fans of the surrealist, craving their latest fix of one of modern literature's most talked-about authors.
Other major outlets plan to open early today to cater for the expected surge in demand.
Online giant Amazon Japan had taken 20,000 pre-orders by last weekend and publisher Bungeishunju said its initial print run would be an astonishing 500,000 copies.
"Readers in Japan have craved a new book from him for so long," said Yuta Takahashi of Daikanyama T-Site bookstore in Tokyo, which is hosting the late night launch event.
So far, excited "Harukists" have been told nothing about the book, bar its Japanese-only title: Shikisai wo Motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to Kare no Junrei no Toshi. An unofficial translation renders it: "Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and the Year of his Pilgrimage".
Beyond that, there is a void. But the secrecy surrounding the release, Murakami's first in three years, has not prevented it racing up the book charts.
Murakami, who divides his time between Japan and the US, is rarely seen in public, lending further mystique to works praised for their lyrical surrealism and fabulous characters.