Gary Flockhart: Murakami major coup for book fest

Haruki Murakami  Pic: Comp

Haruki Murakami Pic: Comp

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THE Festival brings some stellar names to the Capital each and every August – but this weekend sees a pop culture icon arrive on these shores.

For the first time ever, the great Haruki Murakami visits the city, for not one but two appearances at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

The famously reclusive Japanese author made his first appearance in his homeland for 18 years to speak about his latest novel recently – so it’s a major coup for the Edinburgh International Book Festival to bring him here.

The author of such classics as Norwegian Wood and Kafka On The Shore is a writer with rock-star status. He has an army of hip, youngish fans. His fiction, translated into 42 languages, sells by the millions, and each new book he writes arrives to a Harry Potter-release-like throb of anticipation.

He is, in short, a bona fide superstar, which is a rare thing for a novelist to be in this day and age.

The first Murakami event is tomorrow afternoon, and takes place at the Baillie Gifford Main Theatre at Charlotte Square Gardens at 3pm.

The 65-year-old, who learned to speak English by reading American crime novels, will be discussing The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, the 1994 release widely considered to be his masterpiece and the one which, when it was first translated into English in 1997, established him as a literary giant.

On Sunday, at the same venue (6.30pm), Murakami joins us for the worldwide English-language launch of new novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years Of Pilgrimage, which sold more than a one million copies in the week of its release in Japan.

Unfortunately, tickets for both events sold out in nanoseconds when they went on sale a few months ago – though it’s probably worth checking with the EIBF box office for returns.