Murakami Among the Leaders for Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prizes are being announced this week, with the Prize for Literature coming on Thursday, so betting is on in the UK. Japanese writer Haruki Murakami is currently #3 at bookmaker Ladbroke’s, with odds of 9:1. If he wins, it would put American libraries in the unfamiliar position of already owning the books by a new Nobel laureate, since he has been widely published here. It would also be perfect timing for the Oct, 25 release of the author’s 900-page novel in the U.S, 1Q84, (Knopf; Brilliance Audio).

Murakami’s publisher has been beating the publicity drum for what they call the author’s “long-awaited magnum opus,” by giving away a chapter to those who “like” the book on Facebook and releasing an excerpt in New Yorker in September. The book has been in the top 100 on Amazon for 21 days, rising to #47 today.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the race to translate the book to meet “pent-up demand” (it was published two years ago in Japan in and has sold over 4 million copies there), describing it as

…a twist on George Orwell’s 1984, which Mr. Murakami frequently references. (In Japanese, the word for ‘nine’ is pronounced ‘kyu’). Rather than an Orwellian dystopian future, Mr. Murakami paints an alternate past. In his characteristically stark, unadorned prose, Mr. Murakami tells an epic love story set in Tokyo in 1984. Aomame, a young female hired assassin, and Tengo, an aspiring novelist, are separately drawn into a parallel reality where some people have two souls, two moons hang in the sky and mysterious ‘little people’ wield power.

Don’t rush to place your bets, however. The winner of the Prize is notoriously difficult to predict; last year’s winner, Herta Muller was given odds of 50:1.

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