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Sputnik Sweetheart: A Novel Paperback – April 9, 2002
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The narrator is a teacher whose only close friend is Sumire, an aspiring young novelist with chronic writer's block. Sumire is suddenly smitten with a sophisticated businesswoman and accompanies her love object to Europe where, on a tiny Greek island, she disappears "like smoke." The schoolteacher hastens to the island in search of his friend. And there he discovers two documents on her computer, one of which reveals a chilling secret about Sumire's lover.
Sputnik Sweetheart is a melancholy love story, and its deceptively simple prose is saturated with sadness. Characters struggle to connect with one another but never quite succeed. Like the satellite of the title they are essentially alone. And by toning down the pyrotechnics of his earlier work, Murakami has created a world that is simultaneously mundane and disturbing--where doppelgängers and vanishing cats produce a pervasive atmosphere of alienation, and identity itself seems like a terribly fragile thing. --Simon Leake --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The plot is fairly straight-forward. K is in love with his best friend Sumire, an aspiring writer who considers K to be a close friend, but nothing more. Sumire, in turn, is madly in love with Miu, a married wine importer who lost the capacity for love when she went through a traumatic experience as a student. Sumire sets aside her writing to work as Miu's personal assistant, and the two head off to Europe on a business trip. Sumire mysteriously disappears, and Miu summons K to help search for her.
Each of the novel's characters is scarred by loss, and like the Sputnik, each character feels isolated, connected to the world and the people around them by the most thin and tenuous of threads. Miu suffers a traumatic experience as a young student which leaves her half a person and turned her hair white. As K sees her for the last time, she is a hollow shell, and her white hair reminds K of bone that has had every bit of life bleached from it.
Sumire's sense of loneliness is even greater. Having never previously experienced or even understood love, she falls completely for Miu only to realize that Miu will never love her back. Like two satellites briefly passing each other in space, never to meet again, Sumire realizes that the has grown as close to Miu as she ever will and that she will eventually lose what little she has.Read more ›
If there's a central theme, it might be the examination of loneliness, and how people try to meet, and nearly meet, but never quite do so. Though Murakami doesn't hide this below the surface, his style is such that the reader never feels as if attending a lecture, but rather it resembles listening to the all-too-seldom musings aloud of a very wise, close friend.
A never-consummated relationship, a close relationship between one who is madly in love and another who has no such desire to take "that step," is the source of great sadness and lonesomeness. I've not encountered a writer yet who writes of this as well as Haruki.
If you've read Norwegian Wood, Sputnik Sweetheart should hold few surprises for you. It has the simple story structure of Norwegian Wood, and indeed many of the plot elements are very similar. But there is a shadowy, creeping supernatural flavor to the novel also, an otherworldliness that reminds me of _A Wild Sheep Chase_ or _Wind-up Bird Chronicle_.
IF YOU'RE NEW TO HARUKI MURAKAMI: I wouldn't start with Sputnik Sweetheart. He's written many wonderful novels, and I would recommend _Norwegian Wood_ or _A Wild Sheep Chase_ instead: _Norwegian Wood_ because it's simply a better all-around novel, and _A Wild Sheep Chase_ because it's a better introduction to Haruki's work.
Sputnik Sweetheart is a little delicacy, a short and bittersweet treat. I eagerly await Haruki's next work.
The storyline is only a cover for Murakami to unfold his reflections on these themes - Sumire was swept by her love for an otherworldly woman; meanwhile, the earthier "I"(is he yet again nameless?) quietly awaits her love. It's his discussion on the contradictory forces behind these characters that makes Sputnik Sweetheart an intriguing read: Sumire was named after a Mozart's song with the most beautiful music and the most callous lyrics; Miu is a foreigner who can no longer speak her mother tongue; "I" is a passionate, kind, intelligent teacher, who nonetheless sleeps with the mother of one of his pupils. All of them feel the force of destiny, and each answers in one's own way: Sumire disappears after her quest for heavenly beauty; Miu is no longer a living person, but a memorial to the person she was, just like the statue of her father. "I" remains in this world, resists, and hangs on to a thread of hope that nobody else would call hope. All three are aware that they need some fresh blood - the spirit - to revitalize their being - the white bones.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
First Murakami read. Found no characters to connect with and just didnt like it in general.Published 18 days ago by Kindle Customer
This is a brilliant book and my favorite novel by Haruki Murakami. I couldn't put the book down.Published 26 days ago by Brooke Marston
I didn't think I would like this as much as Murakami's other works with their explicit magic realism, but all the qualities are there, just more subtle. Read morePublished 1 month ago by John Tang
I would give six stars if possible, Haruki Murakami's novel is quite literally outstanding. Worth the read.Published 3 months ago by Illuminating Traveler
I give this book three stars mainly because I think it may not translate well. I was waiting for a payoff the entire book and never received one. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Richard
Lively and entertaining book full of human interest and philosophical observations, gradually turning into high drama. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Alfred J. Kwak
Murakami is a genius. This book of short stories is no exception.Published 6 months ago by Anna Dunne
Halfway through, I've had enough. There are some good thoughts here and there, but I don't have to read something just because you like to write.Published 6 months ago by Humbled Reader
I've read a lot of Murakami including his somewhat recent 1000-plus page work. Somehow I missed this wonderful gem, "Sputnik Sweetheart." It is beautifully written. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Kindle Customer