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Sputnik Sweetheart [Paperback]

Haruki Murakami
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

3 Oct 2002

Sumire is in love with a woman seventeen years her senior. But whereas Miu is glamorous and successful, Sumire is an aspiring writer who dresses in an oversized second-hand coat and heavy boots like a character in a Kerouac novel.

Sumire spends hours on the phone talking to her best friend K about the big questions in life: what is sexual desire, and should she ever tell Miu how she feels for her? Meanwhile K wonders whether he should confess his own unrequited love for Sumire.

Then, a desperate Miu calls from a small Greek island: Sumire has mysteriously vanished...


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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (3 Oct 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8129120828
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099448471
  • ASIN: 0099448475
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949. Following the publication of his first novel in Japanese in 1979, he sold the jazz bar he ran with his wife and became a full-time writer. It was with the publication of Norwegian Wood - which has to date sold more than 4 million copies in Japan alone - that the author was truly catapulted into the limelight. Known for his surrealistic world of mysterious (and often disappearing) women, cats, earlobes, wells, Western culture, music and quirky first-person narratives, he is now Japan's best-known novelist abroad.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Haruki Murakami is arguably one of Japan's finest, modern writers and is, increasingly, being seen as one of the top authors working today. The last novel of his to find its way to these shores, Norwegian Wood, was a delightful, if slightly one-dimensional coming-of-age tale. The pyrotechnics of his previous, more surreal novels (Wind Up Bird Chronicle and A Wild Sheep Chase) had disappeared but something of his eccentricity, what made his books such a wonder, had disappeared too. Sputnik Sweetheart is a confident continuation of this more simple style yet one that retains the allegories, the depth of his best work.

The narrator, a teacher, is in love with the beguiling, odd Sumire. As his best friend, she is not adverse to phoning at three or four in the morning to ask a pointless question or share a strange thought. Sumire, though, is in love with a beautiful, older woman, Miu, who does not, can not, return her affections. Longing for Sumire, K (that is all we are told by way of a name) finds some comfort in a purely sexual relationship with the mother of one of his pupils. But the consolation is slight. K is unhappy. Miu and Sumire, now working together, take a business trip to a Greek Island. Something happens, he is not told what, and so K travels to Greece to see what help he can offer.

Themes of love, loss, sexuality, identity and selfhood are all interrogated, woven into a compelling, romantic, serious and sometimes sad book. It is a disarmingly simple, hugely satisfying, intelligent and moving work and one of Murakami's best. Simplicity, sprinkled with a dose of his magic, has enabled Murakami to write candidly, succinctly and beautifully about the complications and difficulties of love and loving. --Mark Thwaite --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Sputnik Sweetheart has touched me deeper and pushed me further than anything I've read in a long time" (Julie Myerson Guardian)

"How does Murakami manage to make poetry while writing of contemporary life and emotions? I am weak-kneed with admiration" (Independent on Sunday)

"A beautiful novel, as light as a feather, and yet enduringly sad... a captivating book from one of the world's most interesting authors" (Sunday Herald)

"Murakami has been compared to everyone from Raymond Carver to Raymond Chandler - which should tell you only one thing: he's unique" (Independent)

"Confirms Murakami as a master of his craft... Out of this world" (Time Out)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By Dinah85 VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is one of my favourites ever. I had always been meaning to read it, but never gotten around to it, and I'm so glad I finally did!
The story focusses on misplaced love, love without desire, and desire without love. The unusual circumstances into which the characters are thrown forces them to evaluate their lives, and the magic that has interspersed at crucial periods to make them who they are today.
This is not a 'pretty' story but neither is it like 'grity reality' modern fiction, the words carry you along and force you to consder the deeper underlying factors in your own life.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Laika Prayer 18 Oct 2002
Format:Paperback
Murakami picks up the themes from Wild Sheep/DanceDanceDance/Wind-Up Bird once more, with, in this case, the title referring to the lonely isolation of typical human existence, rather like satellites drifting around in the void, only rarely encountering fellow travellers. Once again, there's a reality/dreamworld duality, an attempt to explore the subconscious, a sense of alienation from self and others, and a search for the forms and ideas that we somehow feel must exist somewhere, but definitely aren't knocking around in the real world.
Which is fine as far as it goes - and Murakami pulls this trick off better than anyone else - but it was done a lot better in the books mentioned above. Not only does this book feel lightweight in comparison (although it runs to 220 pages, it has that existentialist short story feeling), it simply leaves too many holes in the narrative. If anything, it reads as a defeated attempt to understand the problems he's been attacking in his earlier work: "well, I'm not even going to try and guess what's in the gaps in reality this time - you figure it out. I'm off to the pub".
If you've stayed with me this far, I should, in fairness, point out that he still writes brilliantly. The language and imagery is as great as ever; the characters do, by and large, convince, seduce and entertain; the dialogue conjures up a field of human interaction that's uncomfortably realistic in its sense of isolation.
But we've been led to expect more than this... more story, more answers, or at the very least, some different questions. Beautiful prose and "deep" characters don't on their own make a great novel - if you don't believe me, try and read Anil's Ghost all the way through.
Haruki Murakami is one of the greatest novellists you can get at in English today, so please read him. But if this is your first experience, please read one of his other books. They're better.
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30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why do people have to be this lonely? 7 Mar 2003
Format:Paperback
This is the question asked by the narrator of Sputnik Sweetheart. "What's the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the Earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?"
Sputnik Sweetheart doesn't answer this question; it only asks it through the story of Sumire, a 22-year-old girl who fall in love with a woman seventeen years her senior. The narrator, K, who is also the "narratee" because he is Sumire's confidant, recounts the complexes and sometimes surreal lives of Sputnik Sweetheart's characters. Sumire, who dreams of being a writer until she meets Miu. Miu, a rich wine dealer whose hairs turned all white in one night some forty years ago, and himself, a teacher who is having an affair with the mother of one of his pupils.
In some respects it's a Japanese "Jules et Jim". Despite his affair, K is in love with Sumire; Sumire realises one day that she is in love with a woman, Miu, but the latter can't love anyone anymore. This impossible love triangle could have stood still for a long time if one day, whilst Miu and Sumire were on holiday on a Greek island, Sumire hadn't suddenly disappeared. This disappearance is the cathartic event that will expose the loneliness of Murakami's characters and by extension our loneliness.
Murakami is my second attempt at Japanese literature. I started with Mishima's Golden Pavilion some years ago, and that definitely wasn't an easy read. Murakami's style is much easier, more "modern", and the narrative more straightforward. Every sentence seems to be constructed with the optimal number of words, like Sumire's writing. The different parts of the novel feel exactly the right length, and the action progresses just when you feel it should progress.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sputnik Sweetheart 4 Aug 2014
By Kyo
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the first Murakami book I've read, and honestly, I liked it. Really enjoyed it. I've read some samples of his other work and they seem, oh I don't know... vast? Grand, drenched in mystery and somewhat intimidating. So I started off small, light... easy.

This book I really enjoyed. I very much enjoyed the three main characters this book follows. The writing and feel of the book are like hooks with lots of little hooks that once get you, will not let go.

Loneliness looms over these characters throughout the story, and I was left to wonder if happiness would grace them. It is quite a real setting that dips its toe into the supernatural at times.

very much enjoyed this book, and have bought a few other books of Murakami to lose myself in.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but lacking originality and depth 19 Jun 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
After reading several Murakami books over the last few months, I felt this lacked originality over his previous works - the same themes of unreturned love, lack of sexual passion, hair colour changes, wells (only make a brief appearance in this one) and male lack of ambition are there. Only this time there is even less plot and you finish the book wondering what the point was. Get it to complete your collection but I recommend reading Norwegian Wood (similar in scope and approach) and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (wider plot and better characterisation) in preference. Still rates 4 stars because Murakami writes well but this is not his best.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars unrequited love - with cats, the moon, and music
An excellent, though quite short story of just over 200 ages, about the love of a young man for a young woman who is in turn wildly in love with a much older woman. Read more
Published 1 month ago by markr
4.0 out of 5 stars Typical Muikami
Liked it all.Couldnt anticipate how the story would develop so kept one constantly engaged.
Title will attract readers but is not a. Clue to content
Published 2 months ago by Mr Frank B Saundry
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
This is the 2nd Haruki Murakami book I have read, the first being South of the Border West of the Sun which is a beautifully written and engaging. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Blondiebear
5.0 out of 5 stars Murakami's well-known simple but beautifully warm writing that awakens...
"Sputnik Sweetheart" by Haruki Murakami is book that speaks about loneliness, about the sense of inevitability when love decays and we are unable to do anything about... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Denis Vukosav
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable if formulaic novel
In many ways, Haruki Murakami's Sputnik Sweetheart is a typical novel from the Japanese writer. Certain themes and motifs are present in many of Murakami's works. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Adam Martley
4.0 out of 5 stars greta story
love the part in Greece, it gave me such a nice picture of Greek island, the nature, hills, villa, food, really enjoyed it
Published 9 months ago by not happy one
4.0 out of 5 stars Very nice read
Murakami is an excellent writer and I always enjoy his books. The weirdness tends to frustrate me a little, but I enjoyed this story a lot, even though it descended into a kind of... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ilovemycat
5.0 out of 5 stars I had to finish it!
I couldn't let it alone until I finished it. This is the second Murakami book I've read in two weeks and I look forward to reading more
Published 14 months ago by Shoe Person
5.0 out of 5 stars Love & lust, in a different way
The love-triange (if you can call it that) that forms the basic story of this novel is probably known by all readers, so I won't bother mentioning it. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Cassandra
5.0 out of 5 stars Surreal and amazing
I love this book completely. The story about a love that one can never have is something that connects with me in my life. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Jake Powell
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