Fans in Japan rush to get Murakami book with esoteric title

In this Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, photo, workers prepare a display before the start of the sale of Haruki Mrakami's new book in Osaka, western Japan. Murakami's new book "Kishidancho Goroshi," or "Killing Commendatore," is a two-part story about a 36-year-old portrait painter and the mysterious incidents that happen after his wife divorces him and he moves into an old house on a mountainside west of Tokyo. The sign reads "Haruki Murakami. Full-scale long story in seven years." (Tsuyoshi Ueda/Kyodo News via AP)
People buy copies of the new book written by Haruki Murakami at a book store in Tokyo shortly after midnight, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. Murakami's new book "Kishidancho Goroshi," or "Killing Commendatore," is a two-part story about a 36-year-old portrait painter and the mysterious incidents that happen after his wife divorces him and he moves into an old house on a mountainside west of Tokyo. (Fumine Tsutabayashi/Kyodo News)
People buy copies of the new book written by Haruki Murakami at a book store in Tokyo shortly after midnight, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. Murakami's new book "Kishidancho Goroshi," or "Killing Commendatore," is a two-part story about a 36-year-old portrait painter and the mysterious incidents that happen after his wife divorces him and he moves into an old house on a mountainside west of Tokyo. (Fumine Tsutabayashi/Kyodo News via AP)
New books written by Haruki Murakami are placed on display for sale at a book store in Osaka, western Japan Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. Murakami's new book "Kishidancho Goroshi," or "Killing Commendatore," is a two-part story about a 36-year-old portrait painter and the mysterious incidents that happen after his wife divorces him and he moves into an old house on a mountainside west of Tokyo. (Tsuyoshi Ueda/Kyodo News via AP)
A woman poses with books written by Haruki Murakami, at a book store in Tokyo shortly after midnight, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. Murakami's new book "Kishidancho Goroshi," or "Killing Commendatore," is a two-part story about a 36-year-old portrait painter and the mysterious incidents that happen after his wife divorces him and he moves into an old house on a mountainside west of Tokyo. (Kazuhiko Yamashita/Kyodo News via AP)
People buy copies of the new book written by Haruki Murakami at a make shift corner outside a book store in Tokyo Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. Murakami's new book "Kishidancho Goroshi," or "Killing Commendatore," is a two-part story about a 36-year-old portrait painter and the mysterious incidents that happen after his wife divorces him and he moves into an old house on a mountainside west of Tokyo. (Fumine Tsutabayashi/Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO — Fans of Haruki Murakami rushed to Japanese bookstores Friday 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 coincides with "Premium Friday" government initiative to encourage office workers to leave early for a longer weekend.

Unfortunately, fans in Japan's northern main island of Hokkaido would have to wait until Saturday to get their books because a freight train carrying the shipment had an accident, Shinchosha said.

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.

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Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

Find her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/mari-yamaguchi

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