Sputnik Sweetheart

( 45 )

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Haruki Murakami's seventh novel to be translated into English is at once a moving tale of an extraordinary love and a haunting mystery, complete with Murakami's signature touches of magic realism.

Sumire, the novel's heroine, is a young, aspiring writer who considers herself to be the ultimate rebel. She chain-smokes, dresses like an unkempt little boy, is obsessed with Jack Kerouac, and seems to reject -- almost on principle -- all the mores and manifestations of normal society, including love and sex. According to the narrator, "If she did experience sex -- or something close to it -- in high school, I'm sure it would have been less out of sexual desire or love than literary curiosity." Sumire spends most of her time writing stories with which she is never satisfied and discussing the meaning of life with her best friend, a levelheaded Tokyo schoolteacher with a penchant for sleeping with the mothers of his students. To the reader, and to Sumire herself, it seems as if she is waiting, primed, for her life to truly begin.

Life does in fact begin -- and almost end -- for Sumire when she meets an elegant older woman named Miu at a cousin's wedding. Sumire, who has never known love, falls head-over-heels for this mysterious woman, and the two develop a close friendship. Miu seems determined to become a mentor to Sumire and offers her a job as her personal assistant. When Miu and her new assistant take a business trip to Europe, the story becomes increasingly dreamlike -- or, more accurately, nightmarish. In Europe, Miu finally confides in Sumire about the experience that forever changed the older woman's life, an experience that psychically broke her in half and left behind only a shell of the person she once was. In her determination to become closer to and fully understand Miu, Sumire sets out on her own world-shattering journey to the "other side," a trip that nearly leads her away from Miu and from her life in Japan forever.

The novel is told in first person, but not from Sumire's perspective. Instead it is told by Sumire's best friend, the Tokyo schoolteacher who for years has been secretly in love with her. The narrator's inability to fully understand the journey that Sumire takes during the novel imparts an added aura of mystery to her already unfathomable pilgrimage. But his love for and faith in Sumire allow the reader to believe that, unlike Miu, this young woman will find the strength to survive her ordeal and return intact. (Laura Beers)

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

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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375726057
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/9/2002
  • Series: Vintage International Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 162,143
  • Lexile: 770L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.14 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Haruki Murakami

Born in Kyoto, Japan, in 1949, Haruki Murakami grew up in Kobe and now lives near Tokyo. The most recent of his many honors is the Yomiuri Literary Prize, whose previous recipients include Yukio Mishima, Kenzaburo Oe, and Kobo Abe. His work has been translated into moer than fifty languages.

Biography

The The story of how Haruki Murakami decided to become a novelist says a lot about his work, because it is as strange and culturally diffuse as the works he writes. While watching a baseball game in Toyko in 1978 between the Yakult Swallows and the Hiroshima Carp, Murakami witnessed an American hit a double. At the crack of the bat, Murakami -- who had never had any ambition to write because he assumed he didn't have the talent -- decided that he should begin a novel. He then started his first book, in the night hours after work.

If you're waiting for a connection between the double and the epiphany, there isn't one. It's often that way in Murakami's fiction, where cultures blend and seemingly incongruous, inexplicable events move the story forward. People disappear or transform as quickly as the worlds around them, and the result is a dreamlike atmosphere that blends mystery, magic realism and sci-fi while remaining unmistakably distinct from all three.

Murakami was brought up in a suburb of Kobe by parents who were teachers of Japanese literature; but the literature of his parents did not interest him and he read mostly American authors, listened to American jazz and watched American shows. For this reason, though his books are set in Japan and originally written in Japanese, they do not seem terribly foreign to English speakers. South of the Border, West of the Sun's title derives from a Nat King Cole song; and you're as likely to find a reference to McDonald's, Cutty Sark or F. Scott Fitzgerald as you are to anything Japanese.

Murakami began his career with the coming-of-age novels Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball 1973, but he hit his stride with A Wild Sheep Chase, a novel about a twentysomething ad executive who is drawn into the quest for an elusive, mutant sheep. The novel appeared in the U.S. seven years after its 1982 publication, introducing American audiences to this unclassifiable author. It contained many of the traits that mark Murakami's novels: a solitary male protagonist who drifts just outside society; first-person narration; and philosophical passages nestled within outlandish, unconventional plots. An admiring New York Times Book Review called Murakami a "mythmaker for the millennium."

The author's commercial breakthrough in Japan had come with the publication of Norwegian Wood in 1987, which sold two million copies. The story of a man who becomes involved with his best friend's girlfriend after the friend's suicide, it stands alone as the author's most straightforward, realistic work. Murakami acknowledges the book's impact on his career, and stands behind it; but he is also aware that it represented a departure from the surreal books that had made him a "cult" author with a modest following. "After Norwegian Wood, I have not written any purely realistic novels," Murakami said in a 2001 publisher's interview, "and have no intention of writing any more at this time."

Murakami's return to surrealism with Dance Dance Dance (the sequel to A Wild Sheep Chase), however, did not slow his career growth. Further translations of his work and publication of his stories in the New Yorker assured a growing following in the States, where his best known (and, to some, his best) work is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which appeared here in 1997. It's a masterful work that draws together all of the themes Murakami had been exploring in his fiction up until then: modern ennui, the unpredictability of relationships, a haunting backdrop of Japanese history.

In addition to his sublime and profoundly strange short stories and novels (Sputnik Sweetheart; Kafka on the Shore; Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, etc.), Murakami has made occasional forays into nonfiction -- most notably with Underground, a compilation of interviews with victims of the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, and his 2008 memoir of the New York City Marathon, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. He has also translated several works by American authors into Japanese, including title by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Carver, and John Irving.

Good To Know

Murakami owned a small jazz bar in Tokyo for seven years after college, an experience that he enjoyed and called upon when creating the main character of South of the Border, West of the Sun, who also owns a Tokyo jazz bar.

Murakami's first three novels, -- Hear the Wind Sing, Pinball 1973, and A Wild Sheep Chase -- comprise The Trilogy of the Rat.

His most often cited influences are Raymond Chandler, Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan.

Murakami told an interviewer from Publishers Weekly in 1991 that he considers his first two novels, Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball 1973 "weak," and was not eager to have them translated into English. The translations were published, but are not available in the U.S. Third novel A Wild Sheep Chase was "the first book where I could feel a kind of sensation, the joy of telling a story. When you read a good story, you just keep reading. When I write a good story, I just keep writing."

Daniel Handler, aka children's author Lemony Snicket, is a vocal fan of Murakami's who once wrote a review/paean to the author in the Village Voice entitled "I Love Murakami." "Haruki Murakami is our greatest living practitioner of fiction," he wrote. "....The novels aren't afraid to pull tricks usually banned from serious fiction: They are suspenseful, corny, spooky, and hilarious; they're airplane reading, but when you're through you spend the rest of the flight, the rest of the month, rethinking life."

Murakami has taught at Princeton University, where he wrote most of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and Tufts University. The twin disasters of a gas attack on the Tokyo subway and the Kobe earthquake in 1995 drew the author back to Japan from the United States.

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    1. Hometown:
      Tokyo, Japan
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 12, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Kyoto, Japan
    1. Education:
      Waseda University, 1973
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
In the spring of her twenty-second year, Sumire fell in love for the first time in her life. An intense love, a veritable tornado sweeping across the plains-flattening everything in its path, tossing things up in the air, ripping them to shreds, crushing them to bits. The tornado's intensity doesn't abate for a second as it blasts across the ocean, laying waste to Angkor Wat, incinerating an Indian jungle, tigers and all, transforming itself into a Persian desert sandstorm, burying an exotic fortress city under a sea of sand. In short, a love of truly monumental proportions. The person she fell in love with happened to be seventeen years older than Sumire. And was married. And, I should add, was a woman. This is where it all began, and where it all wound up. Almost.
At the time, Sumire-Violet in Japanese-was struggling to become a writer. No matter how many choices life might bring her way, it was novelist or nothing. Her resolve was a regular Rock of Gibraltar. Nothing could come between her and her faith in literature.

After she graduated from a public high school in Kanagawa Prefecture, she entered the liberal arts department of a cozy little private college in Tokyo. She found the college totally out of touch, a lukewarm, dispirited place, and she loathed it-and found her fellow students (which would include me, I'm afraid) hopelessly dull, second-rate specimens. Unsurprisingly, then, just before her junior year, she just up and quit. Staying there any longer, she concluded, was a waste of time. I think it was the right move, but if I can be allowed a mediocre generalization, don't pointless things have a place, too, in this far-from-perfect world? Remove everything pointless from an imperfect life, and it'd lose even its imperfection.

Sumire was a hopeless romantic, set in her ways-a bit innocent, to put a nice spin on it. Start her talking, and she'd go on nonstop, but if she was with someone she didn't get along with-most people in the world, in other words-she barely opened her mouth. She smoked too much, and you could count on her to lose her ticket every time she rode the train. She'd get so engrossed in her thoughts at times that she'd forget to eat, and she was as thin as one of those war orphans in an old Italian movie-like a stick with eyes. I'd love to show you a photo of her, but I don't have any. She detested having her photograph taken-no desire to leave behind for posterity a Portrait of the Artist as a Young (Wo)Man. If there were a photograph of Sumire taken at that time, I know it would be a valuable record of how special certain people are.

I'm getting the order of events mixed up. The woman Sumire fell in love with was named Miu. At least that's what everyone called her. I don't know her real name, a fact that caused problems later on, but again I'm getting ahead of myself. Miu was Korean by nationality, but until she decided to study Korean when she was in her midtwenties, she didn't speak a word of the language. She was born and raised in Japan and studied at a music academy in France, so she was fluent in both French and English in addition to Japanese. She always dressed well, in a refined way, with expensive yet modest accessories, and she drove a twelve-cylinder navy-blue Jaguar.

The first time Sumire met Miu, she talked to her about Jack Kerouac's novels. Sumire was absolutely nuts about Kerouac. She always had her literary Idol of the Month, and at that point it happened to be the out-of-fashion Kerouac. She carried a dog-eared copy of On the Road or Lonesome Traveler stuck in her coat pocket, thumbing through it every chance she got. Whenever she ran across lines she liked, she'd mark them in pencil and commit them to memory like they were Holy Writ. Her favorite lines were from the fire lookout section of Lonesome Traveler. Kerouac spent three lonely months in a cabin on top of a high mountain, working as a fire lookout. Sumire especially liked this part:

No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength.

"Don't you just love it?" she said. "Every day you stand on top of a mountain, make a three-hundred-sixty-degree sweep, checking to see if there're any fires. And that's it. You're done for the day. The rest of the time you can read, write, whatever you want. At night scruffy bears hang around your cabin. That's the life! Compared with that, studying literature in college is like chomping down on the bitter end of a cucumber."

"OK," I said, "but someday you'll have to come down off the mountain." As usual, my practical, humdrum opinions didn't faze her.

Sumire wanted to be like a character in a Kerouac novel-wild, cool, dissolute. She'd stand around, hands shoved deep in her coat pockets, her hair an uncombed mess, staring vacantly at the sky through her black plastic-frame Dizzy Gillespie glasses, which she wore despite her twenty-twenty vision. She was invariably decked out in an oversize herringbone coat from a secondhand store and a pair of rough work boots. If she'd been able to grow a beard, I'm sure she would have.

Sumire wasn't exactly a beauty. Her cheeks were sunken, her mouth a little too wide. Her nose was on the small side and upturned. She had an expressive face and a great sense of humor, though she hardly ever laughed out loud. She was short, and even in a good mood she talked like she was half a step away from picking a fight. I never knew her to use lipstick or eyebrow pencil, and I have my doubts that she even knew bras came in different sizes. Still, Sumire had something special about her, something that drew people to her. Defining that special something isn't easy, but when you gazed into her eyes, you could always find it, reflected deep down inside.

I might as well just come right out and say it. I was in love with Sumire. I was attracted to her from the first time we talked, and soon there was no turning back. For a long time she was the only thing I could think about. I tried to tell her how I felt, but somehow the feelings and the right words couldn't connect. Maybe it was for the best. If I had been able to tell her my feelings, she would have just laughed at me.

While Sumire and I were friends, I went out with two or three other girls. It's not that I don't remember the exact number. Two, three-it depends on how you count. Add to this the girls I slept with once or twice, and the list would be a little longer. Anyhow, while I made love to these other girls, I thought about Sumire. Or at least, thoughts of her grazed a corner of my mind. I imagined I was holding her. Kind of a caddish thing to do, but I couldn't help myself.

Let me get back to how Sumire and Miu met.

Miu had heard of Jack Kerouac and had a vague sense that he was a novelist of some kind. What kind of novelist, though, she couldn't recall.

"Kerouac . . . Hmm . . . Wasn't he a Sputnik?"

Sumire couldn't figure out what she meant. Knife and fork poised in midair, she gave it some thought. "Sputnik? You mean the first satellite the Soviets sent up, in the fifties? Jack Kerouac was an American novelist. I guess they do overlap in terms of generation. . . ."

"Isn't that what they called the writers back then?" Miu asked. She traced a circle on the table with her fingertip, as if rummaging through some special jar full of memories.

"Sputnik . . .?"

"The name of a literary movement. You know-how they classify writers in various schools of writing. Like Shiga Naoya was in the White Birch School."

Finally it dawned on Sumire. "Beatnik!"

Miu lightly dabbed at the corner of her mouth with a napkin. "Beatnik-Sputnik. I never can remember those kinds of terms. It's like the Kenmun Restoration or the Treaty of Rapallo. Ancient history."

A gentle silence descended on them, suggestive of the flow of time.

"The Treaty of Rapallo?" Sumire asked.

Miu smiled. A nostalgic, intimate smile, like a treasured old possession pulled out of the back of a drawer. Her eyes narrowed in an utterly charming way. She reached out and, with her long, slim fingers, gently mussed Sumire's already tousled hair. It was such a sudden yet natural gesture that Sumire could only return the smile.
Ever since that day, Sumire's private name for Miu was Sputnik Sweetheart. Sumire loved the sound of it. It made her think of Laika, the dog. The man-made satellite streaking soundlessly across the blackness of outer space. The dark, lustrous eyes of the dog gazing out the tiny window. In the infinite loneliness of space, what could the dog possibly be looking at?

This Sputnik conversation took place at a wedding reception for Sumire's cousin at a posh hotel in Akasaka. Sumire wasn't particularly close to her cousin; in fact, they didn't get along at all. She'd just as soon be tortured as attend one of these receptions, but she couldn't back out of this one. She and Miu were seated next to each other at one of the tables. Miu didn't go into all the details, but it seemed she'd tutored Sumire's cousin on piano-or something along those lines-when she was taking the entrance exams for the university music department. It wasn't a long or very close relationship, clearly, but Miu felt obliged to attend.
In the instant Miu touched her hair, Sumire fell in love, like she was crossing a field and bang! a bolt of lightning zapped her right in thehead. Something akin to an artistic revelation. Which is why, at that point, it didn't matter to Sumire that the person she fell in love with happened to be a woman.

I don't think Sumire ever had what you'd call a lover. In high school she had a few boyfriends, guys she'd go to movies with, go swimming with. I couldn't picture any of those relations ever getting very deep. Sumire was too focused on becoming a novelist to really fall for anybody. If she did experience sex—or something close to it—in high school, I'm sure it would have been less out of sexual desire or love than literary curiosity.

"To be perfectly frank, sexual desire has me baffled," Sumire told me once, making a sober face. This was just before she quit college, I believe; she'd downed five banana daiquiris and was pretty drunk. "You know-how it all comes about. What's your take on it?"

"Sexual desire's not something you understand," I said, giving my usual middle-of-the-road opinion. "It's just there."

She scrutinized me for a while, like I was some machine run by a heretofore unheard-of power source. Losing interest, she stared up at the ceiling, and the conversation petered out. No use talking to him about that, she must have decided.

Sumire was born in Chigasaki. Her home was near the seashore, and she grew up with the dry sound of sand-filled wind blowing against her windows. Her father ran a dental clinic in Yokohama. He was remarkably handsome, his well-formed nose reminding you of Gregory Peck in Spellbound. Sumire didn't inherit that handsome nose, nor, according to her, did her brother. Sumire found it amazing that the genes that produced that nose had disappeared. If they really were buried forever at the bottom of the gene pool, the world was a sadder place. That's how wonderful this nose was.

Sumire's father was an almost mythic figure to the women in the Yokohama area who needed dental care. In the examination room he always wore a surgical cap and large mask, so the only thing the patient could see was a pair of eyes and ears. Even so, it was obvious how attractive he was. His beautiful, manly nose swelled suggestively under the mask, making his female patients blush. In an instant-whether their dental plan covered the costs was beside the point-they fell in love.

Sumire's mother passed away of a congenital heart defect when she was just thirty-one. Sumire hadn't quite turned three. The only memory she had of her mother was a vague one, of the scent of her skin. Just a couple of photographs of her remained-a posed photo taken at her wedding and a snapshot taken right after Sumire was born. Sumire used to pull out the photo album and gaze at the pictures. Sumire's mother was-to put it mildly-a completely forgettable person. A short, humdrum hairstyle, clothes that made you wonder what she could have been thinking, an ill-at-ease smile. If she'd taken one step back, she would have melted right into the wall. Sumire was determined to brand her mother's face on her memory. Then she might someday meet her in her dreams. They'd shake hands, have a nice chat. But things weren't that easy. Try as she might to remember her mother's face, it soon faded. Forget about dreams-if Sumire had passed her mother on the street, in broad daylight, she wouldn't have known her.

Sumire's father hardly ever spoke of his late wife. He wasn't a talkative man to begin with, and in all aspects of life-like they were some kind of mouth infection he wanted to avoid catching-he never talked about his feelings. Sumire had no memory of ever asking her father about her dead mother. Except for once, when she was still very small; for some reason she asked him, "What was my mother like?" She remembered this conversation very clearly.

Her father looked away and thought for a moment before replying. "She was good at remembering things," he said. "And she had nice handwriting."

A strange way of describing a person. Sumire was waiting expectantly, snow-white first page of her notebook open, for nourishing words that could have been a source of warmth and comfort-a pillar, an axis, to help prop up her uncertain life here on this third planet from the sun. Her father should have said something that his young daughter could have held on to. But Sumire's handsome father wasn't going to speak those words, the very words she needed most.

Sumire's father remarried when she was six, and two years later her younger brother was born. Her new mother wasn't pretty either. On top of which she wasn't so good at remembering things, and her handwriting wasn't any great shakes. She was a kind and fair person, though. That was a lucky thing for little Sumire, the brand-new stepdaughter. No, lucky isn't the right word. After all, her father had chosen the woman. He might not have been the ideal father, but when it came to choosing a mate, he knew what he was doing.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 45 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 45 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2005

    An okay read

    This book was just okay. The ending seemed a little bit rushed and forced, and very out of nowhere. It was an easy read however, and I would read it if you are a Murakami fan. It wouldn't be a waste of time to read it, but the book might make you feel a bit unsatisfied. It wasn't too memorable, but fans should give it a read. Then go read Hardboiled Wonderland.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2012

    Sad Surprised

    I'm finding the dialogue too contrived. This a little disappointing compared to his excellent others and I've decided to quit it here.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2012

    THIS NOVEL SHORT AND SWEET

    Although not much in length I would say this story still packs a punch and is worth paying for. I have never been to Japan or Greece for that matter and yet could still vividly see the characters there while I read about them. It involves a certain humor and mystery with existential romance that somehow feels genuine right from the start. Not easy to find a story like this one here unless you already know Murakami.

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  • Posted August 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Beautifully Written

    I was recommended this book by a friend and decided to give it a try. This book from the very beginning is a complete page turner. I found the characters to be very relatable. What I really love about this book is Hurakami's style of writing. Its very descriptive and really gives you a sense of whats going on both with the characters/their thoughts and with their surroundings. Overall I find this book really refreshing to read. The only thing that disppointed me a bit was the ending. It felt a bit abrupt, but all in all definitely a good read.

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  • Posted October 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great

    Sputnik Sweetheart is the first book I have read by Murakami. I thought it was a great book. It was very easy to read and it was very relaxing. The writing style is very unique and I thought it was refreshing. The story of the novel is also very unique. I would recommend this book to most people. It is something different and touching. I can't wait to read more Murakami!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2007

    Unrequited Passions

    This is an excellent book about unrequited love and unfulfilled passions, a modern story that is uniquely written and well worth the time to read!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2005

    Sputnik Sweetheart; A Legacy of Self Understanding

    Sputnik Sweetheart is probably the most poignant and meaningful Japanese contempoary novel I have ever read. It is a story of a girl's love for another woman and how she had to go on a journey of self-discovery to understand herself, but finally returns to society. I love how the story is written in the first person style of her best friend (which his name isn't given). You will never read anything so eccentrically enjoyable with truly profound semantics as Sputnik Sweetheart.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2004

    Same ol'....Same ol'

    Sputnik Sweethear is Murakami's one novel written again. He still can't help dredging up the same ol' story line(disappearing, dying women), the same characters(It's the same main character as every other novel of his! He's in every novel!!), and imagery(below ground, well, etc.) that he always uses. Why do I feel like I am the only person that enjoys Murakami, but realizes that he just keeps repackaging the same stuff over and over again. He is a great writer who lost his imagination long ago. So...read one and you've read them all!! That being said his novel 'Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World' is his most imaginative and unique work to date.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2004

    doesn't cut it

    Murakami's entertaining, but I still can't *feel* what he's trying to do; he really does want to make it emotional, but for me, somehow, he just can't pull it off. The novel's characters make lovely read-ables, and I finished the book in three days. Once again, he writes an engrossing, easy read, but... he's trying to get away with emotional punch that he can't throw. =/

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2004

    Predictable, still fascinating...

    When Miu was up there staring at her own apartment, it was so predictable that she would see herself in it. This is the classic Murakami style. I've never loved one's writing like I do for Murakami. I would completely drown myself into his unreal world, and just imagine standing beside all those characters, feeling their emotions, sadness and loneliness. But if you consider yourself a happy person, you probably won't be touched by him.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2004

    the duality of everything, putting yourself in the shoes of the one who is inside the mirror

    this is my second murakami book, my first novel from him though. every murakami's character reveals every emotion they have. it really lacks a good ending but better to be left that way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2003

    Murakami at his best

    I wanted to grab a book off the shelf at Londaon Gatwick airport to get me back to the states in one sitting and this fine novel did the trick. Easy to read and very engrossing in its plot and narrative, Sputnik Sweetheart grabbed me from the first paragraph. I truly enjoy this author. After reading more difficult literary novels with deep themes, it is always refreshing to read something that has simpler language and construction while at the same time conveying the most important of ideas. This is a must read for those interested in themes about love and its aftermath.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2002

    mmm...

    i read Sputnik Sweetheart after West to the sun, east to the coast, and i found that sputnik had less 'substance' in it. the Sumire's disappearance was intriguing, but i expected a better ending... the book was still very interesting to read. i had lots of pleasure reading it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2002

    bizzarre, but since when is that bad?

    I managed to read the book in two sittings - it was extremely involving. It starts off fairly light, and you don't realize how wrapped up you are until you look at the clock. It is extremely strange once Sumire disappears, but that only added to its quality.

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    Posted December 15, 2008

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