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"
A mystery story about love, the cosmos and other fictional universes --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From the Back Cover
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...
'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
'Confirms Murakami as a master of his craft... Out of this world' Time Out
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. He is the author of many novels as well as short stories and non-fiction. His works include Norwegian Wood, A Wind-up Bird Chronicle, Kafka on the Shore, After Dark and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. His work has been translated into more than forty languages, and the most recent of his many international honours is the Jerusalem Prize, whose previous recipients include J.M. Coetzee, Milan Kundera, and V.S. Naipaul. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.