New Murakami book creates buzz in Britain

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Booksellers in Britain were expecting to sell thousands of copies of Japanese author Haruki Murakami's latest novel on Tuesday as excitement built after some stores held special late-night openings.

Hardback versions of the book, "1Q84", went on sale across Britain a week ahead of its eagerly awaited launch in the United States and it leaped to second place in the hardback sales lists on Amazon's British site.

Waterstone's, one of the biggest booksellers, said the "1Q84" trilogy -- volumes one and two have been released in Britain with the third part to follow on October 25 -- would be one of its big sellers at Christmas.

"This will be a massive book for us today and it should be one of the big novels for Christmas," Waterstone's spokesman Jon Howells told AFP.

"It is quite rare for a hardback novel of this kind to sell in the tens of thousands, but we would definitely put this book in that category.

"It is comparable to the launch of Jonathan Franzen's latest book 'Freedom' last year."

One of Waterstone's central London branches held a "Murakami Mastermind" quiz late Monday for hardcore fans who then got a chance to be one of the first owners of the book.

Specialist bookseller Foyles threw a launch party at its flagship store in London late Monday, complete with Japanese food, jazz and readings from the author's books.

Foyles has stocked a total of 1,500 copies of a collector's edition of the book with red-edged pages in its six shops in Britain.

On Tuesday, a Murakami display dominated one of the window's of the chain's store on Charing Cross Road and copies of the novel were stacked high on the shelves.

"It's been flying off the shelves," Foyles employee Peter Wray, 34, said. "We're well-stocked, but we're getting more."

A Foyles spokesman said: "It is predicted to be the top hardback fiction title this Christmas."

The first book, comprising volumes one and two, are on sale for £20 (23 euros, $31.50) with the second book, volume three, retailing at £14.99.

In Japan the first two volumes of "1Q84", which can be read as "1984" in Japanese, came out in 2009, becoming a bestseller even before hitting the stores on the back of massive advance orders, and sold a million copies in a month.

The novel blends Murakami's mix of parallel universes, bizarre characters and surrealist happenings as the lives of a female murderer and a male novelist intertwine.

© 2011 AFP

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