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Sputnik Sweetheart (Panther) Paperback – 17 May 2001

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Paperback, 17 May 2001
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Product details

  • Paperback: 229 pages
  • Publisher: The Harvill Press; New edition edition (17 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 186046825X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860468254
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 1.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,396,519 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


"Grabs you from its opening lines. . . . [Murakami's] never written anything more openly emotional." -"Los Angeles Magazine" "Murakami is a genius." -"Chicago Tribune" "Murakami has an unmatched gift for turning psychological metaphors into uncanny narratives." -"The New York Times Book Review" "An agonizing, sweet story about the power and the pain of love. . . . Immensely deepened by perfect little images that leave much to be filled in by the reader's heart or eye." -"The Baltimore Sun" "[Murakami belongs] in the topmost rank of writers of international stature." -"Newsday" "Murakami's true achievement lies in the humor and vision he brings to even the most despairing moments." -"The New Yorker" "Perhaps better than any contemporary writer, [Murakami] captures and lays bare the raw human emotion of longing." -"BookPage" "Murakami . . . has a deep interest in the alienation of self, which lifts [Sputnik Sweetheart] into both fantasy and philosophy." -"San Francisco Chronicle" "Not just a great Japanese writer but a great writer, period." -"Los Angeles Times Book Review"

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First Sentence
In the spring of her twenty-second year, Sumire fell in love for the first time in her life. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"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 it.

The book has three main characters - a college student, who is called K. is in love with his best friend Sumire. Sumire is an ambitious writer who sees K. as close friend, but nothing more. On the other hand, Sumire is crazy in love with Miu, who is married and can't longer love anyone due to her difficult and traumatic experience back in student time. Sumire will give up her writing to be able to work as Miu's assistant and they will depart to Greece for a business trip. When Sumire will mysteriously vanish without any trace, Miu will ask K. to help search for her...

With its theme of loneliness and isolation, this book by Haruki Murakami is similar to his some other works.
Due to that, he choose Sputnik motive for its title that is in same sense isolated from the world like this book's characters.

Additionally, through this book the author is asking questions of human identity and sexuality, conscious and unconscious world, but it's also full of mystery in the literal and figurative sense.

This book is an excellent choice for first book you'll read from Murakami, it will introduce you to his world, his beautiful literary style and for sure you'll be eager to read some other of his works (my first suggestions would be "Kafka on the Shore" and "Wind-Up Bird Chronicle").

For all his existing fans, inside you'll find his well-known simple but beautifully warm writing that awakens feelings of loneliness and makes you hug your loved one beside you, happy you're not alone as his characters are.

Due to that, I can strongly recommend you to read this as well as his other books to see that the loneliness is still one of the hardest things that a human being could suffer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By markr TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 July 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.

Set partly in Japan, partly on a Greek island, this is a slighly sad, rather fragile tale of unrequited love. Full of Marakami regulars - cats, earlobes, music, brand names, and the moon all appear, this still has a fresh feel, and is a fascinating mixture of the slightly surreal, and page turning compulsive reading. I loved reading this and was sad when it was finished - especially as so much remains unresolved at the final page
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Format: Paperback
Lively and entertaining book full of little scenes and quasi-philosophical observations, gradually turning into high drama. It is mainly about chaotic Sumire (22), whose sole passion is to write the ultimate novel and who has never felt any sexual desire. Until she meets Miu (38), a married Korean-Japanese ex-pianist, now businesswoman, who transforms her into a non-smoking, perfectly-dressed and competent personal secretary.The person recording it all is an unnamed male person, K (24), a fellow student Sumire trusts and loves above anyone else, calling him at all hours, discussing music, books and life until dawn. K is keenly attracted to her physically, but knows any pass would spoil their bond forever.
This reader (m) is an amateur re HM, having read only a handful of his novels. Here, the lighter parts read like Milan Kundera, the name dropping of foreign brands more like Bret Easton Ellis or Jay McInerney; the vast knowledge of pop, jazz and classical music is strictly HM’s own. The novel ups tempo when K in Tokyo receives a call from Greece from Miu. Could he please rush to a small island near Rhodes? Why? Because Sumire has disappeared, as if gone up in smoke…
What follows is for readers to find out. This reader is of the recreational type, not keen on explaining philosophical or supernatural matters. However, one theme is the utter loneliness of every soul on earth and beyond, symbolized by the dog Laika viewing the earth briefly in 1957 from the SU Sputnik satellite. Another is Japanese upbringing and schooling: the little shoplifter in Ch 15 could now be a “hikikomori” a stayer-with-parents, adult Japanese rejectionists of real life not found in such great numbers elsewhere. But his teacher K.
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Format: Paperback
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. Sputnik Sweetheart follows the brilliant Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, the novel I believe to be Murakami's masterwork. Whereas that story was like a labyrinth, this is a more straightforward kind of tale, or as straightforward as a Murakami story can be.

Interestingly, after the other labyrinth-like work, Kafka on the Shore, Murakami also followed that with a more contained kind of novel, After Dark. And at the centre of both Sputnik Sweetheart and After Dark are female characters, which is something of a rarity for the author.

Neither Sputnik Sweetheart nor After Dark are bad novels. In fact, they are very good novels. But it does seem that these novels are a kind of `break' for Murakami. Similarly, the expansive work Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World was followed by the more intimate Norwegian Wood. Therefore, when you look at Murakami's bibliography, you do see a pattern emerge.

Whilst The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was a story about a missing cat, Sputnik Sweetheart is about a missing woman. The woman in question, Simire, is a young aspiring novelist, and realises she is a lesbian when she meets a woman named Miu at a family member's wedding. Up until meeting Miu, Simire's sole focus in life was writing. Although Simire is at the centre of the novel, in typical Murakami style, it is narrated by a male protagonist. This man, named `K.', is Sumire's only connection with the real world before she meets Miu. K. is in love with Sumire, although his feelings are not reciprocated.
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