Meet the publicity-shy author who wants to solve your problems

New book?

Interestingly, no. Having sold many millions of copies of his novels worldwide, the publicity-shy Japanese author Haruki Murakami has taken an unexpected career turn.

Gameshow host?

Wrong again. He’s undertaking a stint as an agony uncle. After announcing last week that he would respond to emails from readers on delicate life issues, yesterday the Norwegian Wood author published his first batch of responses.

Does he give much away?

Quite a bit for a man who guards his privacy fiercely. One questioner asked how he would improve his novel Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. “When you think about a girl you dated a long time ago, don’t you find yourself thinking, ‘Ah, if only things had gone better’?” he replied. “I often do. It’s the same thing… if only things had gone better. That said, then was then, and I think I did my best.”

Is this him opening up?

Not quite. Asked by a 51-year-old doctor if he could have a “special invitation” to spend with the author, Murakami’s response was pleasant, firm and a tad mysterious. “There are tiny secrets about my life, so it would be troubling for you to take a peek into it,” he said. “Instead, try taking a look into other people’s lives.”

So, I have this rash…

Woah! Hold your horses! You can submit your problems for consideration on Mr Murakami’s Place, here.

But there’s not much advice here.

Well spotted. He only properly donned the agony uncle hat in response to one question. When a mother asked how she could bring up her son to be like the author, he replied: “Bring him up like me? It’s quite tough being me… but I somehow managed it, because I am me.” Now there’s one to ponder…

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