Sputnik Sweetheart

Sputnik Sweetheart

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by Haruki Murakami
     
 

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Combining the early, straightforward seductions of Norwegian Wood and the complex mysteries of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, this new novel—his seventh translated into English—is Haruki Murakami at his most satisfying and representative best.See more details below

Overview

Combining the early, straightforward seductions of Norwegian Wood and the complex mysteries of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, this new novel—his seventh translated into English—is Haruki Murakami at his most satisfying and representative best.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Murakami's seventh novel to be translated into English is a short, enigmatic chronicle of unrequited desire involving three acquaintances the narrator, a 24-year-old Tokyo schoolteacher; his friend Sumire, an erratic, dreamy writer who idolizes Jack Kerouac; and Miu, a beautiful married businesswoman with a secret in her past so harrowing it has turned her hair snowy white. When Sumire abandons her writing for life as an assistant to Miu and later disappears while the two are vacationing on a Greek island, the narrator/teacher travels across the world to help find her. Once on the island, he discovers Sumire has written two stories: one explaining the extent of her longing for Miu; the second revealing the secret from Miu's past that bleached her hair and prevents her from getting close to anyone. All of the characters suffer from bouts of existential despair, and in the end, back in Tokyo, having lost both of his potential saviors and deciding to end a loveless affair with a student's mother, the narrator laments his loneliness. Though the story is almost stark in its simplicity more like Murakami's romantic Norwegian Wood than his surreal Wind-Up Bird Chronicles the careful intimacy of the protagonists' conversation and their tightly controlled passion for each other make this slim book worthwhile. Like a Zen koan, Murakami's tale of the search for human connection asks only questions, offers no answers and must be meditated upon to provide meaning. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Murakami's (Norwegian Wood) seventh book in translation is a love story wrapped in a mystery packaged in a light-side/dark-side philosophical wrapper. While in college, the narrator falls in love with untidy novelist manqu Sumire, who wants only to be best friends. They talk and talk. Sumire later falls hard for Miu, an older, married woman for whom she begins working. Then, on a business/pleasure trip to Greece with Miu, Sumire disappears. From a plot standpoint, this disappearance, which occurs a third of the way through the book, is the first time that anything interesting happens. The narrator's fixation on Sumire is not all that fascinating, nor is its object. As for Murakami's vaunted writing, one gets more dead-hit metaphors per ream from "commercial" writers like Loren Estleman. The philosophical black/white/doppelganger stuff is not without interest, but not normally the stuff of the (American) mass market. Recommended for Murakami initiates and large fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/00.]--Robert E. Brown, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
“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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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375411694
Publisher:
Knopf Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/24/2001
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.88(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.04(d)

Read an Excerpt

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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