Graphic reading sees member of audience collapse at festival event
A READING at Cheltenham Literature Festival on Sunday night was so graphic and nauseating that a woman member of the audience collapsed and a medic had to be called to treat her.
The talk was billed as ‘A Celebration of Haruki Murakami’, the Japanese novelist, but could more accurately have been described as “Audience torture by Haruki Murakami.”
It was when his account of a prisoner being flayed alive was read out that the woman fainted.
The authors on stage continued talking as members of the audience went to help the collapsed woman and a first-aider was called to give her treatment as she sat on the floor of the auditorium.
A panel including people who knew Japanese author Murakami, his translator and fans of his work, were talking about his new book Killing Commendatore.
Each member of the panel chose their own favourite piece of Murakami’s writing to be read aloud.
Chair, Georgina Godwin warned the audience that one of the panel, author Evie Wyld had chosen a very very graphic excerpt from Murakami’s novel The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.
Actor Julian Rhind-tutt read the excerpt, which described in moment-by-moment detail how a Mongolian soldier tortured a captured Japanese agent.
Evie Wyld said she had been a fan of Murakami since reading the Wind-up Bird Chronicle.
“I’m a big fan of how he writes about war. His writing is simple, straightforward and unblinking,” she said.
“The first book of his I read was the Wind-up Bird Chronicles about 20 years ago. I still remember where I was when I read it and the taste it left in my mouth for days afterwards. It really disturbed me and i really liked that about the book.”
Asked why she had chosen something so very graphic and disturbing as her favourite Murakami piece to be read aloud Evie Wyld said “Yeah, sorry about this...” as the audience laughed nervously.
“It’s where my head goes to immediately when I think of Murakami because I remember that moment of reading the scene and it’s about the unblinking gaze on something,” she said.
“It helped me enormously with what I was writing about which was my uncle in Vietnam... how to write about war and how to write about something you feel a closeness to but weren’t involved in.
“It is beautifully written. It is one of the most graphic, awful things and I almost feel that it needs a trigger warning.”
It is beautifully written. It is one of the most graphic, awful things.