- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (April 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375411690
- ISBN-13: 978-0375411694
- Product Dimensions: 15 x 2.3 x 22 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,838,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Sputnik Sweetheart Hardcover – 1 Apr 2001
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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 the Paperback edition.
"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) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sumire is a solitary, difficult, awkward, Goth-y young woman who has one friend – the unnamed narrator. Read morePublished 11 hours ago by Bob Ventos
I'm a great fan of Haruki Murakami whose ability to write absorbing page-turners is second to none. Whilst Sputnik Sweetheart starts promisingly enough - painting a picture of a... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Amazon Customer
Norweigan Wood will never be beaten in my heart, and probably not many others. But Sputnik Sweetheart goes beyond just Japan, and travels to Greece. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Jeiran
Not the best of his books but I love Murakami anyway. Very quick read.Published 12 days ago by M. E. Collier
Touching and sensitive story, expertly written. This is only my second Murakami book but I'm now hooked and will be working my way through them.Published 2 months ago by Frankie
This book starts of well, exploring the relationship between the three main characters. It's only a short novel and he almost seems to have given up trying to find a reason for... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Nik Proffitt