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The Sputnik Sweetheart: A Novelby Haruki Murakami
Synopses & Reviews
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 th
An unrequited love for a woman devoted to Kerouac and the writer's life leads a man on a quest to uncover the mysteries of love and human longing after the woman disappears without a trace during her odyssey from parochial Japan through Europe to a Greek island, leaving behind only computer accounts of bizarre events and stories within stories. 30,000 first printing.
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, JackKerouac, 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 ofGreece, 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, SputnikSweetheart ultimately lingers in the mind as a profound meditation on human longing.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
About the Author
Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives in Tokyo. He is the author of several novels, including Norwegian Wood, Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and A Wild Sheep Chase, and of Underground, a new work of nonfiction. Murakami's work has been translated into sixteen languages.
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