TOKYO (AFP) – Japanese literary superstar Haruki Murakami is favourite for this year's Nobel Prize in Literature, betting odds showed Friday, after repeatedly being mentioned as a contender for the prestigious global gong.
Online bookmaker Ladbrokes.com was Friday offering odds of 3-1 on the novelist scooping up the prize, which will be announced in Sweden next month.
Murakami, who has a large and loyal following worldwide, has been a regular nominee for the prize for many years, and was Ladbrokes' top bet at one point last year, when he lost out to China's Mo Yan.
In the odds offered by Ladbrokes, Murakami is followed by US writer Joyce Carol Oates at 6-1. Peter Nadas from Hungary is the third favourite at 7-1, with South Korean Ko Un and Algerian Assia Djebar tied in fourth at 10-1.
Murakami, who spends much of his time in the United States, is known for writing lyrically and surreally about Japanese who refuse to toe the line in a homogenous society, peppering his works with pop culture references.
His three-volume novel "1Q84" proved a worldwide phenomenon, and non-Japanese-speaking fans are now eagerly waiting for translation of his latest -- "Shikisai wo Motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to Kare no Junrei no Toshi (Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage)" -- expected next year.
It was released in April in Japanese.
Murakami's latest novel tells the story of a young man struggling with an ordeal in his past, who uses the support offered by a romance to get back on his feet.
Translated into some 40 languages, his works have attracted fans globally with their so-called "Murakami world" -- fantastical scenes such as a giant frog inviting a salaryman into an epic battle, or skies that rain mackerel.