Murakami at Edinburgh

Murakami at Edinburgh

Japanese author Haruki Murakami launched his latest novel at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this weekend with two sell-out events for fans at the 600-capacity Baillie Gifford Theatre.

The writer, who is on his first visit to the UK since 2003, launched Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (Harvill Secker), which went on sale earlier this month with a series of midnight openings and special events.

At Edinburgh, he spoke about his work and his passions in Q&A about his novel The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and in another session called Japan's Greatest Living Author. After pre-signing 200 copies of the book for those who couldn't attend the events, the author also signed for two hours following his second talk.

In the sessions, he spoke about his passion for running, calling it the best way to see a city, and his fondness for whisky, telling the audience he intended to visit Jura to sample its distilleries.

He also revealed that he does not re-read his books, struggling to recall central plot points of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

Hundreds queued at bookshops around the country to get hold of a copy of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, with Waterstones and Foyles both selling special editions of the book. The hardback is packaged with stickers to allow readers to decorate their copies.

In the Guardian, Mark Lawson said the book is "as adept as ever as setting up Kafaesque ambiguity and atmosphere", but added that readers are at the mercy of the translation "when the prose lowers itself to cliché or commonplace – as it seems to do surprisingly often in this novel." Boyd Tonkin in the Independent said: "This author's signature tune, an almost child-like naivety harmonised with riddling sophistication, sounds throughout."

Musician Patti Smith reviewed the book for the New York Times, and said: "This is a book for both the new and experienced reader. It has a strange casualness, as if it unfolded as Murakami wrote it; at times, it seems like a prequel to a whole other narrative. The feel is uneven, the dialogue somewhat stilted, either by design or flawed in translation. Yet there are moments of epiphany gracefully expressed, especially in regard to how people affect one another."

Murakami will do another signing at Waterstones Piccadilly on Saturday 30th August from 11a.m.