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Sputnik Sweetheart Paperback – 3 Oct 2002


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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 (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,776 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.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on 29 Feb 2004
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 31 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Sladen on 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 36 people found the following review helpful By Roger Jay on 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shoe Person on 2 Jun 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lucybird on 11 Aug 2011
Format: Paperback
I must say I loved Sputnik Sweetheart. It seemed to bridge that gap between the more 'normal' books by Murakami, like 'Norwegian Wood', and the more surreal of his novels, like 'The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle'.

Initially the situation in Sputnik Sweetheart seemed pretty normal, a sort of twisted romance story. Boy (K) loves girl (Sumire), girl loves other girl (Miu), other girl is married but has never been in love. Not sure if you would call that a love triangle or what! After a while things began to get a little strange (just like the Murakami I know and love). Sumire and Miu go to Greece and after a few days K gets a phone call from Miu, a woman he has never met, saying that something has happened to Sumire. From then on things just get stranger and stranger. I really liked the surrealism in this book but it wasn't overwhelming as it is in some of Murakami's other books. This aspect did make it an easier and less confusing read but also meant it didn't stick with me in the same way Kafka on the Shore did (for example).

The language was still beautiful but maybe a bit more simple. That's part of the reason I think this one would make a good introduction to Murakami, along with it's less in your face surrealism. It still has an aspect of surrealism which would give a hint but not so much it makes it a challenge to read.
Also really appreciated the book references in this one.

Not my favourite but still loved it.
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