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Synopses & Reviews
What stays with you when you set down Haruki Murakami's near-perfect Sputnik Sweetheart is the stillness. Stillness tinged with melancholy. Writing in compact form, Murakami's modest voice pitches into vulnerable territory as he lays bare a story that relies on nearly every sentence and yet pulls off both a compelling plot and an elegiac lament of longing. Murakami takes the formal tone and heartbreaking sparseness of Hartley's The Go-Between or Ishiguro's Remains of the Day, and pares it down even further, reminiscent of the minimalist Zen gardens of his native Japan. Sputnik Sweetheart is the story of the narrator, known only as "K," and his friend (and unrequited love) Sumire. Sumire, at twenty-two, has fallen in love for the first time and it is with a woman seventeen years her senior. Crushed, but with a sense of acceptance and inevitability, K resumes his "practical, humdrum" life and consoles himself with an affair with the mother of one of his primary school students. One day, out of the blue, Sumire calls him from a small Greek island asking for help. What follows catapults K across the world and across an emotional threshold he believed himself incapable of breaching.
A brilliant writer who can traverse many styles, from cyber-punk postmodern satire (Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World), surrealistic thriller (A Wild Sheep Chase, The Wind-up Bird Chronicles), and poignant love story (Norweigian Wood, South of the Border, West of the Sun), Murakami is often considered one of our greatest living writers. Sputnik Sweetheart is the perfect introduction to this dazzling author. Georgie, Powells.com
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.
"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." Publishers Weekly
"[P]oignant....[A]n impressive story of unrequited love....If you loved Norwegian Wood, you?ll certainly love this novel....Murakami?s fiction is deliberately baffling, and Sputnik Sweetheart is as much a mystery as romance....[It] resonates somewhere below the conscious level, where the logical unravels." Ian Chun, AsainWeek.com
"I'll come right out and say it: I don't really know what Murakami's startling new novel is about. But it has touched me deeper and pushed me further than anything I've read in a long time....Murakami has given us a work so much larger and more pungent than the sum of its parts." Julie Myerson, The Guardian (UK)
"Sputnik Sweetheart...offers an elegant distillation of Murakami's cool surrealism....It is less raucous than his early novels, with their incessant pop culture references. At this more mature stage in his career, Murakami speaks in a subtler language, one that blankets the internal and external world with melancholy." Daniel Zalewski, The New York Times
K, a primary school teacher, is in love with Sumire. But Sumire is in love with an older woman: Miu. Frustrated, K has an uneasy affair with the mother of one of his pupils. Then he receives a call from Miu who asks him to meet her. It seems that something very strange has happened to Sumire.
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