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Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami
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Sputnik Sweetheart (1999)

by Haruki Murakami

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,83386957 (3.75)166
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Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
My least favorite of his novels so far, but still wonderful.
  mirikayla | Feb 8, 2016 |
“A deep silence ensued. Her mind was as clear as the winter night sky, the Big Dipper and North Star in place, twinkling brightly. She had so many things she had to write, so many thoughts and ideas would gush out like lava, congealing into a steady stream of inventive works the likes of which the world had never seen. People’s eyes would pop wide open at the sudden debut of this Promising Young Writer with a Rare Talent. A photo of her, smiling coolly, would appear in the arts section of the newspaper, and editors would beat a path to her door.

But it never happened that way. Sumire wrote some words that had a beginning. And some that had an end. But never one that had both a beginning and an end.”

A while ago, I’d had too much of Haruki Murakami and had to take my leave of him (it was a pretty long one – I didn’t read any in 2010, and only his non-fiction, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, in 2009. So the last Murakami I read was in 2008.) But when I returned to Murakami, it felt good. It was comforting, falling into his world of quiet, of music and literature, of Japan, of friendships and love again. An interesting relationship between a man and a woman, and another woman with that woman, a tale of early morning phone calls, of changes, of affection, repressed and unrequited love and longing. And as I read about this relationship of Sumire and the unnamed narrator (we never get to know our narrator’s name although this story is as much his), and of Sumire and an older woman Miu, who eventually becomes her boss, I am waiting, expecting that bit, that twist in the story. And then it comes and it is bizarre, a little creepy in its own way, a little like thinking you heard something in the middle of the night, then you wake up the next morning wondering if you had actually heard it or if it were just a dream.

“Sumire and I were a lot alike. Devouring books came as naturally to us as breathing. Every spare moment we’d settle down in some quiet corner, endlessly turning page after page, Japanese novels, foreign novels, new works, classics, avant-garde to best-seller – as long as there was something intellectually stimulating in a book, we’d read it.”

It takes a while to emerge from this book and back to the gloom and wet of my own settings. I am a little jealous of their journey to that little Greek island. It brings a little warmth into my living room where I am seated on my couch with the fleece throw over my socked feet.

I am glad to have picked up Murakami again. I just reckon one requires quite a breather in between his books, although two years is probably too long a break. However, I have to be honest and say that I am constantly confused by which of his novels I’ve read! ( )
  olduvai | Jan 19, 2016 |
4.5 stars (rounded to 5)
I fell in love with Murakami after reading Wind-up Bird Chronicles and I was worried about reading another of his books for fear that I would be disappointed. While I didn’t like this book as much as Wind-up Bird, I still REALLY liked it. Sputnik Sweetheart is a book about love, longing, loneliness, and their consequences. It is bizarre, beautiful, emotionally-evocative, and magical. It is hard for me to describe exactly what I like about his books other than the fact that they leave me haunted and wanting to read more. Reading his books remind me of my experiences reading as a child and being so immersed in a completely new, vivid, and magical world.
( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
Sputnik Sweetheart Haruki Murakami★★★★★I must say I love Murakami and so far he has done no wrong in anything he has written.Sputnik Sweetheart is a story about love, specifically unrequited love, it is also a story about dreams and the power of the dream world over our everyday lives.Normally I hate open endings but the way this story finishes allows you to draw your own conclusions about what will happen, it doesnt need explaining unlike some books that leave you without the vital answer. ( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
I was easily drawn into this novel and in comparison to many of his works, this was quite 'normal' - there was less of an element of magic realism than in IQ84 or Kafka on the Shore. Sumire falls in love for the first time, and it just happens to be a woman. She confides in her best friend K, who happens to be in love with her. A novel about writing and love and, as with many of his works, a touch of mystery. Quite a quick read and I definitely enjoyed it. ( )
  sashinka | Jan 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Haruki Murakamiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gabriel, PhilipTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gräfe, UrsulaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malinen, IlkkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the world's first man-made satellite, Sputnik I, from the Baikanor Space Center in the Republic of Kazahkstan. Sputnik was 58 centimeters in diameter, weighed 83.6 kilograms, and orbitted the earth in 96 minutes and 12 seconds.
  On November 3 of the same year , Sputnik II was successfully launched, with the dog Laika aboard. Laika became the first living being to leave the earth's atmosphere, but the satellite was never recovered, and Laika ended up sacrificed for the sake of biological research in space.

-From The Complete Chronicle of World History
Dedication
First words
In the spring of her twenty-second year, Sumire fell in love for the first time in her life.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375726055, Paperback)

Sputnik Sweetheart finds Haruki Murakami in his minimalist mode. Shorter than the sweeping Wind-up Bird Chronicle, less playfully bizarre than A Wild Sheep Chase, the author's seventh novel distills his signature themes into a powerful story about the loneliness of the human condition. "There was nothing solid we could depend on," the reader is told. "We were nearly boundless zeros, just pitiful little beings swept from one kind of oblivion to another."

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:35 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The scenario is as simple as it is uncomfortable: a college student falls in love (once and for all, despite everything that transpires afterward) with a classmate whose devotion to Kerouac and an untidy writerly life precludes any personal commitments--until she meets a considerably older and far more sophisticated businesswoman. It is through this wormhole that she enters Murakami's surreal yet humane universe, to which she serves as guide both for us and for her frustrated suitor, now a teacher. In the course of her travels from parochial Japan through Europe and ultimately to an island off the coast of Greece, she disappears without a trace, leaving only lineaments of her fate: computer accounts of bizarre events and stories within stories. The teacher, summoned to assist in the search for her, experiences his own ominous, haunting visions, which lead him nowhere but home to Japan--and there, under the expanse of deep space and the still-orbiting Sputnik, he finally achieves a true understanding of his beloved.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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