Review: Sputnik Sweetheart

Sputnik Sweetheart

Sputnik Sweetheart
By Haruki Murakami
(Vintage Books, Paperback, 9780099448471, 2006, 224pp.)

The Short of It:

In true Murakami fashion, all of the elements are here. A love triangle, a mysterious protagonist known only as K, a beautiful setting and buckets of ennui.

The Rest of It:

It’s no secret how much I love Murakami but this book seemed the most balanced to me. The characters are strange and deep, in the way they usually are but not overly so and the conflict presented, happens to be something any reader can relate to.

Sumire, is this deep, untouchable writer-type who has the talent to write, but can’t seem to effectively gather her thoughts into anything more than just a few words on a page. She’s frustrated and shares her angst with her male friend, known only as K. He sees her potential but at the same time is blinded by his passion for her. Sumire is not interested in K as a lover. Instead, she meets an older woman by the name of Miu, and falls in love with her. Miu shares a very special friendship with Sumire, but does not want to be her lover. This rejection, throws Sumire into a deep well of despair and when Sumire goes missing while vacationing with Miu in Greece, Miu calls K to help find her.

So. Much. Angst. Oh, how I love angst!

These characters are torn between love and passion. They love each other and have passion for one another but the feeling is not mutual. As hard as this is for K, his concern over Sumire outweighs his frustration over the situation. He drops everything to find Sumire and in the process, realizes that some alternate universe exists and that the world as he knows it, will never be the same.

The beauty of this book is the writing itself. It’s delicate. Like taking tiny, measured tastes of a delicious pastry. So many people ask me which Murakami to read first. I am always torn because it really depends on your mood at the time, your tolerance for ennui and angst, etc. But this one would be great for anyone wanting to give Murakami a try. His books can be sexually explicit, but this was tame in comparison and the tone, mild.

Out of all of his books, this is one of my faves. I read this with a couple of other readers for #readingsputnik and it was just what I needed to jolt me out of the reading rut I was in.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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12 Responses

  1. Wow, I’ve been wanting to try his work so I’m adding this to my wish list.

  2. Hooray for angst! :D I just saw this book on a list of books to get your through your quarter life crisis! It’s too late for me, but I’ll probably read it anyway ;)

  3. I haven’t read a Murakami since Kafka on the Shore. I keep meaning to go back to him but never get there.

    • I seem to like Murakami best when I am feeling a tad overwhelmed. He has a way of paring everything down to basics. I like that.


  4. I love reading a review of a book the reader really enjoyed! I have yet to read Murakami…

  5. I love how your reviews of this author ooze love. I can tell you really loved this one…and it seems very complex…but not.

  6. I hadn’t realized that this was written so long ago – I searched for the audio at the library but no luck. Glad u loved it.

  7. This sounds really interesting! I’m keen to get into some Murakami – as you love these books so much, which would you suggest as a starting point?

    • I still think my fave Murakami is Kafka on the Shore but that one was WAY out there. Not good for a first read. I think Sputnik Sweetheart would be good or one of his short story collections. A lot of readers think 1Q84 is a good first read but it’s really long. Visit my blog: Book Chatter


  8. In thinking about this novel, I couldn’t help but time and again think about how Miu was almost a reflection of Sumire’s “muse”. Sumire longs to be a writer like her idol Kerouac, but can’t put the ideas and desires she has swimming in her head down on paper.

    She meets Miu and the woman inspires her to be something, to transform. But she still can’t write. Rejection from Miu, in my interpretation, embodies that ultimate absence of inspiration. She can’t realize her imagination, her goal, her dream, without it (i.e. Miu).

    K and Miu, in going to search for Sumire, I think, illustrates our (the reader’s) longing and need for art when the artist doesn’t provide us with that mirror in which to discover ourselves (art). So they have to find her.

    That’s my Plato moment for the night. Haha.

    If there’s one modern global writer I love (other than Salman Rushdie) it would be Murakami. His prose is beautiful, simply beautiful. After Dark is wonderful if you haven’t yet read that novel. It makes you rethink what is real and what is not.

    Murakami is a master. His 1Q84 is on my coveted Xmas book list.

  9. […] John Boyne 47. The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes 48. World War Z by Max Brooks 49. Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami 50. The Abominable by Dan […]

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