Murakami's fans snap up "secret" new novel

They don't know what it's about but they insist that they don't care. All Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami's fans need to know is that he is the author of the mysterious new book named "1Q84."

Murakami is one of the best known Japanese writers in the world. (And he is considered by some to be one of the world's best living novelists.) The mystery surrounding his new book, to be released in Japan tomorrow, has been deliberate.

When Murakami's earlier work "Kafka on the Shore" was released, fans complained that their response to it was dulled by too much advance press coverage. So this time around absolutely everything about the book – except the author's name and the title – has been kept secret.

And secrecy, it would seem, has only fueled book sales. "It is amazing. People are craving his latest novel," Takashi Machii, spokesman for the book's publisher, Shinchosha, told the Associated Press. Shinchosha has increased the book's first printing to 480,000 copies from 380,000 after orders "flooded in."

According to one theory, the book's title is a reference to George Orwell's "1984,"  because the number nine in Japanese is pronounced like the English letter Q. Others speculate, however, that the title is an homage to the novella "The True Story of Ah Q" by Chinese novelist Lu Xun.

The AP says "1Q84" is "a complex and surreal narrative" that "shifts back and forth between tales of two characters, a man and a woman, who are searching for each other" and includes exploration of "social and emotional issues such as cult religion, violence, family ties and love."

It is not known when an English-language version of the book will be released.

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