Sputnik Sweetheart

by Haruki Murakami

Read this in about 6 minutes
Written by Haruki Murakami & originally published in Japanese in 1999 and translated by Philip Gabriel in 2001, Sputnik Sweetheart  is my first tryst with this legendary writer who is famous for this unique writing style mostly under the  magical realism category. I do not think it would be fair to call this a review, when we talk about author’s of such repute  because the moment a word like that comes into picture I make myself significant enough to comment on the work of master’s in literature who have set a new milestone that we all reckon with, hence it would be more sensible to call it an experience. So here is my experience, of my first Murakami.


Cover

I received this book as a gift, and it is published by Vintage Books.  It is a simple red jacket, a theme followed by Vintage for most (all?) Murakami titles.It is a graphical representation of a satellite, corresponding to Sputnik- the first satellite to have been placed in the orbit. The title though is interesting, as I reckon it talks about how Sumire’s life revolves around Miu’s, or maybe how K’s life revolves around Sumires, doesn't it intrigue you already?

Characters

The story is all about three characters. Sumire, a young aspiring writer who is oblivious to the world and is engrossed in her odd jobs and her writing attempts to break into the literary world. She has a friend, a companion called K, a young school teacher who is pretty much her only friend and they share the kind of friendship where one can talk about everything at all. K is her go to for answers on life and the like. K is in love with her, Sumire is unaware of it. Miu is a woman Sumire encounters in a wedding, who is 17 years older than her, and Sumire instantly falls in love with her.

Content

The book talks about the bond of friendship shared between K and Sumire. He is her 4 a.m friend, from whom she seeks answers about everything at all. She isn't attracted to anyone in a romantic way but K is in love with her. Sumire is a introvert girl living by herself, oblivious to the fashion, trends and people around her and lost in her own little world that mostly comprises of K and her father. She meets Miu, a Korean woman 17 years older and falls in love with her. As things progress, she is invited by Miu to work for her and Sumire blossoms under her both in terms of professional growth and personally. She soon embarks on a trip with the woman she loves, only to go missing from the remote Greek Island that they head to.
You might just think I’ve revealed it all right here, and what more could be there. Do not be mistaken, this is the mere outline of what the book has in store for you. The deep conversations shared by the friends, the thought process of the author conveyed through the characters and of-course the hint of magic and mystery is so overwhelming that this elaborate description stands to be a mere foundation on which this beautiful story is built.

Language

Written from K’s perspective, the writing is simple and complex just the same. If the translated version is so deep and thought provoking, I can only wonder how much deeper the original book can be.

Good Points

Starting from the title, on the onset it seems absurd, but once you read it the title makes sense – the creativity of the author can be seen right at this point. The number of characters are few, hence you tend to focus your attention on these, and each of them is so well conceived and portrayed, you’d be glad to give your attention to each of them.  Coming to the amazing writing style – you need to read it to know what I mean. The words are simple, the sentences are simple too, but the thought – its not! You delve a little deeper, think some more about it and it opens up a beautiful line of thought. Writing like this needs to be read slowly, sometimes re-reading a few lines a couple of times till your brain can really grasp the depth of what is being conveyed.
Last of all, the plot might just seem ordinary, just another one- sided love story? Just another love triangle kind of thing? Well, again, you need to read it to understand that, that is a mere skeleton to this book. The mystery, the thoughts, the connections are so well conveyed that there is nothing ordinary about this book. The hint of mystery and magic leaves you gaping, it has you ravishing the book real quickly seeking answers to all these questions that have suddenly popped up, and there you are, you almost got to a point where your questions are either answered or leave you disappointed, and just at that moment there is a bang, and you are left wanting more.

Bad Points

None, though I wish it ended differently, I still know that I couldn’t ask for a better termination. Sounds contradicting? That’s exactly what the book does to you.

Overall

I had heard so much about the author, I was elated to have received this amazing book as a gift! How glad I am to have made acquaintance with  a certain Mr. Murakami. The book enslaves its reader, it has you reading it a slow pace, re-reading it and indulging some, and has to hooked to it consuming each page with great urgency, when the author wishes it so. All in all, a very enjoyable and thought provoking read.

Who do I recommend this to ?

Another book that I wish everyone reads  due to its powerful writing. Some one who enjoys books that evoke myriad emotions is sure to like this. An author that I would urge everyone to read.

Quotable Quotes

I dream. Sometimes I think that's the only right thing to do.
So that's how we live our lives. No matter how deep and fatal the loss, no matter how important the thing that's stolen from us--that's snatched right out of our hands--even if we are left completely changed, with only the outer layer of skin from before, we continue to play out our lives this way, in silence. We draw ever nearer to the end of our allotted span of time, bidding it farewell as it trails off behind. Repeating, often adroitly, the endless deeds of the everyday. Leaving behind a feeling of immeasurable emptiness.
In the world we live in, what we know and what we don't know are like Siamese twins, inseparable, existing in a state of confusion.

The world in books seemed so much more alive to me than anything outside. I could see things I'd never seen before. Books and music were my best friends.
Why do people have to be this lonely? What's the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?