Photo/IllutrationFans of Haruki Murakami reach for copies of his latest novel, "Kishidancho Goroshi" (Killing Commendatore), at the Jinbocho outlet of Sanseido Bookstore Ltd. in Tokyo on Feb. 24, the first day of sales. (Takayuki Kakuno)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Fans of Haruki Murakami flocked to major bookstores in Tokyo at midnight on Feb. 23, with the goal of being the first to purchase--and read--the latest novel of the acclaimed author.

Sales of the two-volume series titled “Kishidancho Goroshi” (Killing Commendatore) went on sale on Feb. 24.

Anticipating heavy sales, Shinchosha Publishing Co. printed 1.3 million copies for the first run of the Murakami novel.

Stacks of the books were displayed at the Jinbocho outlet of Sanseido Bookstore Ltd. in the capital’s Chiyoda Ward, and about 50 customers were on hand in a special section of the store when the clock struck midnight.

“I really enjoy reading Murakami’s works because of the appealing dialogue and the fantastic way he uses words,” said a 22-year-old university student who waited in line for two hours to buy the books. “I want to read it as quickly as possible so I can discuss it with other fans.”

About 10 members of a club took up positions in a corner of the bookstore where a table, chairs and blankets were provided. The club’s goal is to read Murakami’s works before anyone else, and it set a target of 6 a.m. on Feb. 24 for the latest novel.

The two-volume novel comes four years after his last full-length novel, “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage,” and is his first multi-volume work in seven years since the three-part “1Q84.”