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Sputnik Sweetheart: A Novel Paperback – April 9, 2002
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“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
From the Inside Flap
Haruki Murakami, the internationally bestselling author of "Norwegian Wood and "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, plunges us into an urbane Japan of jazz bars, coffee shops, Jack Kerouac, and the Beatles to tell this story of a tangled triangle of uniquely unrequited loves.
A college student, identified only as "K," falls in love with his classmate, Sumire. But devotion to an untidy writerly life precludes her from any personal commitments-until she meets Miu, an older and much more sophisticated businesswoman. When Sumire disappears from an island off the coast of Greece, "K" is solicited to join the search party and finds himself drawn back into her world and beset by ominous, haunting visions. A love story combined with a detective story, Sputnik Sweetheart ultimately lingers in the mind as a profound meditation on human longing.
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I was glued to the pages almost immediately. Human loneliness was a big theme in the book and I feel like it really managed to capture that feeling that we all have in varying degrees. I'll admit I teared up once or twice.
The prose is his usual mix of matter-of-fact, poetic and surreal.
I highly recommend this book.
Sumire feels at odds with the world. Her only passion in life to date has been writing though she has had almost no success with it either. K, Sumire's former college classmate and only friend is her only real connection in the world. K has fallen in love with Sumire however the feeling isn't mutual as Sumire has never had that kind of desire for anyone that is until she meets Miu. Sumire takes a job with Miu that eventually leads them to a vacation on an island off the coast of Greece from which Sumire disappears. With no one else to turn to Miu contacts K and he heads off to help in the search...
"Sputnik Sweetheart" is my fifth Murakami experience. "Kafka on the Shore" is still my favorite but "Sputnik Sweetheart", is a good short read from Murakami and captures many of the elements and themes that are prevalent throughout Murakami's works.
The Good: Murakami's writing always draws me in. I always enjoy the characters, the story, the way as the reader you are privy to Japanese culture in small servings, and the always prevalent spiritual and metaphysical elements than run rampant in Murakami's stories. These elements allow him to take what would normally be a relatively simple plot and turn it into a story with depth.
The Bad: Nothing memorable.
Overall: If you are a fan of Murakami's other work you will probably enjoy Sputnik Sweetheart as well. If you haven't tried Murakami before this may not be a bad place to start because it is one of his shorter stories.
This is definitely one of the more accessible of the author's works, and I would recommend it for anyone starting to read Murakami.
Just take your time to savor the moments you get to spend with the characters. They'll leave you too soon.