Sunday, 17 November 2013

Review - Sputnik Sweetheart

Sputnik Sweetheart
Haruki Murakami
Translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel
Publisher: Knopf
Pub. Date: 2001, originally published in 1999
ISBN: 9780375411694
Pages:  210
Buy Link
Reading Challenge

I enjoy very much Japanese literature, and it is a yearly treat to read at least a couple of Japanese novels for the Japanese Literature Reading Challenge.
It was time to read another book by the author of the delightful masterpiece 1Q84.
In Sputnik Sweetheart, the narrator K, a thirty-year-old school teacher, is secretly in love with Sumire, 22. But Sumire herself is in love with Miu, a woman 17 years older than her.  One day, Sumire disappears, and K. is trying to figure out what happened to her. He has very few cues to work with, mostly cryptic texts left behind on a computer by Sumire.
Like in many novels by Murakami, I believe, the beauty is not so much in the plot itself than in the writing, in the ambiance, and in the themes tackled along.

Here you will find lots of references to literature, Kerouac most of all, and to classical music, Mozart and Beethoven have a prominent place. I would say this novel is also a reflection on the art of writing. Besides, you find themes very common to Murakami, such as the 2 sides of being, reality vs. unreality, unless unreality is really a facet of reality; solitude and relationship; and of course the presence of the moon and cats!
I enjoyed very much the mysterious characters. Murakami has a knack for very natural and gripping dialogues between his characters.
If this is not for me Murakami’s best novel, how actually could he surpass 1Q84?, it  was still very enjoyable to be in the company of the fruit of his creative pen.

*Disclaimer - I checked out this book at my public library*

About the Author:
Haruki Murakami (村上 春樹) is a popular contemporary Japanese writer and translator. His work has been described as 'easily accessible, yet profoundly complex'.
Since childhood, Murakami has been heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western music and literature. He grew up reading a range of works by American writers, such as Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan, and he is often distinguished from other Japanese writers by his Western influences.
Murakami studied drama at Waseda University in Tokyo, where he met his wife, Yoko. His first job was at a record store, which is where one of his main characters, Toru Watanabe in Norwegian Wood, works. Shortly before finishing his studies, Murakami opened the coffeehouse 'Peter Cat' which was a jazz bar in the evening in Kokubunji, Tokyo with his wife.
Many of his novels have themes and titles that invoke classical music, such as the three books making up The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: The Thieving Magpie (after Rossini's opera), Bird as Prophet (after a piano piece by Robert Schumann usually known in English as The Prophet Bird), and The Bird-Catcher (a character in Mozart's opera The Magic Flute). Some of his novels take their titles from songs: Dance, Dance, Dance (after The Dells' song, although it is widely thought it was titled after the Beach Boys tune), Norwegian Wood (after The Beatles' song) and South of the Border, West of the Sun (the first part being the title of a song by Nat King Cole)

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