Haruki Murakami.—Photo by Reuters

TOKYO: Bestselling author Haruki Murakami is to appear at a Q and A session in Japan in May, in a rare public appearance for the publicity-shy but wildly popular writer, its organiser said on Tuesday.

Murakami, one of the world's foremost novelists, will be part of a seminar titled “Observe soul, write soul” on May 6 in the ancient city of Kyoto.

The event will reportedly be his first public speech in Japan for 18 years.

Murakami's last public appearances in his native Japan were at book-readings in the wake of the 1995 earthquake that levelled much of the western city of Kobe, Japanese media said.

The seminar will mark the establishment of a literary prize in commemoration of late clinical psychologist Hayao Kawai, an old friend of Murakami, the foundation of the prominent scientist said.

It will also follow the release of his latest book.

Murakami's new novel is expected to hit bookstores on April 12, with online book giant Amazon Japan saying it has received more than 10,000 reservations in the first 11 days. The rate is faster than that for the final book in the bestselling “1Q84” trilogy.

The new book's title is only available in Japanese for now: “Shikisai wo Motanai Tasaki Tsukuru to Kare no Junrei no Toshi”. An unofficial translation renders it: “Colourless Tsukuru Tasaki and the Year of his Pilgrimage”.

It will be Murakami's first work in three years after the final installment of “1Q84” — a three-part novel containing the usual Murakami mixture of parallel universes, bizarre characters and surrealist happenings as the lives of a female murderer and a male novelist intertwine.

“1Q84”, which can be read as “1984” in Japanese, proved a worldwide phenomenon.

Murakami's novels, which have drawn international acclaim and been translated into almost 40 languages, include the titles “Norwegian Wood”, “Kafka on the Shore” and “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”.

The author, who divides his time between the US and Japan, has a huge following, with fans praising his lyrical and surreal prose, which often takes as its subject Japanese people living on the margins of a homogenous society.

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