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Japan town fuming over Murakami fiction portrayal

Published on Feb 5, 2014 3:57 PM
Japanese author Haruki Murakami. -- FILE PHOTO: ELENA SEIBERT 

TOKYO (AFP) - A small Japanese town is fuming at best-selling novelist Haruki Murakami after a new story appears to suggest its residents habitually throw lit cigarettes from car windows.

The remote town of Nakatonbetsu on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido says it will demand an explanation from the publisher over how it allows such a description to pass over an editor's desk.

The offending passage appeared in the new 24-page novella, entitled Drive My Car - Men Without Women, which was published in the December edition of the long-established monthly magazine Bungeishunju. It depicts fictionalised conversations between a widowed middle-aged actor and his 24-year-old chauffeuse who hails from Nakatonbetsu, a real-life mountain town whose population has dwindled to 1,900 from a peak of 7,600 in 1950.

When she flips a lit cigarette out of the driver's window, the actor thinks to himself: "Probably this is something everyone in Nakatonbetsu commonly does."

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