The Japanese version of his book, "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage" / Korea Times
Famed author Haruki Murakami
By Baek Byung-yeul
After months of anticipation, the Minumsa Publishing Group announced itself as the winner of the Haruki Murakami sweepstakes, which garnered rapt attention in the publishing industry in the past months.
Korea's financially–squeezed publishers had ferociously competed to secure the rights to publish the Japanese superstar author's new book. Minumsa, which plans to publish the Korean version of "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage'' in July, didn't disclose how much it bid for the rights. But industry sources believe the company was cutting a check for at least 150 million yen (about $1.47 million), which would represent the highest royalty payment to a foreign author.
In a country where book readership is hitting new lows amid a bad economy and the explosion of mobile Internet devices, Murakami is one of the few writers capable of moving a large volume of hard copies and paperbacks.
Murakami's works are popular everywhere but particularly in Korea, where publishing industry people talk about a "Haruki Syndrome.'' His previous novel, "1Q84,'' sold more than 2 million copies here.
In Japan, more than a million copies of "Colorless'' were sold in just the first six days following its release in mid-April, surpassing the pace 1Q84, which needed 12 days to reach that mark.
Veteran translator Yang Eok-kwan, who also translated the earlier Murakami book "Norwegian Wood," will translate "Colorless,'' Minumsa said.
Since his debut in 1979 with the novel, ''Hear the Wind Sing,'' Murakami has published 13 novels and 46 short stories and has recently been mentioned as a possible recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
His most popular works include "Norwegian Wood" (1987) and "Kafka on the Shore" (2002), both translated into more than 40 languages. In 2006, New York Times reported that "Norwegian Wood'' was the most frequently stolen book in America along with J. D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye."