Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami [Book Review]

 

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By: Fatma Chingu

Warning : Spoiler ahead!

My Rating : Frustratingly good

My thoughts:-

I finished reading this book when I was on my flight back from Seoul to Kuala Lumpur. And yes, I brought along Murakami with me during my solo travel to Korea recently. A wise choice for a company? Lets just say I regretted that choice.

First and foremost, I would explain briefly the story.

The story was written from the first person’s view. The narrator is K, a school teacher who lives in solitude and befriend an eccentric aspiring novelist named Sumire. Both of them meet whenever they can and Sumire would call him up randomly at the middle of the night to talk about herself and all her problems.

For whatever reason, K becomes used to her and developed a crush on her.

Turns out that Sumire met Miu, a forty-something business woman and she fell for her.

So there we go, a love triangle. But the focus of the story shifted when Sumire mysteriously disappears during her getaway with Miu in a small Greek island. The concerned Miu called K to the island in hope that somewhat the situation improves, in whatever way.

K spent about 10 days on the island, cracking his brain to find any clue on where Sumire could be. That is when he found the drafts of a story Sumire was writing right before her disappearance.

The drafts, there are two of them were named Document 1 and Document 2.

Document 1 is mainly consists of  her inner thoughts, the changes she experienced since she met Miu. Personally, I read it as rantings and its all over the place (in which I have to re-read to digest what exactly she is writing). She also talked about her suppressed sexual desire for Miu.

In which, later in this book Miu told K about Sumire’s attempt to engage her into sex but ended in vain. Sumire ran away the next morning.

Document 2 on the other hand is the most interesting part of the book (at least for me). This is the part when I get most absorbed into the story. Surprisingly it is not about Sumire. It is about Miu.

Apparently Miu has gone through a traumatic-life-altering experience while riding a Ferris Wheel many years before. She was in her 20’s and the fun fair was closing at that time. She was the last person to ride it and while she was on it, she was left alone hanging because the person in charge already left (he was visibly drunk).

Therefore, she has no choice but to wait for help. Later she saw something that she never thought possible.

From the Ferris Wheel, her room is visible. In some way, though may be in pure logic you could not see from such a distance (my assumption is the fun fair should be around 5 km radius, well just my guess no solid proof), she clearly saw herself having passionate love-making with the guy she dated before-whom she dumped because he is too overwhelming for her to handle.

Her brain was unable to compute the sight she saw before her eyes as the scene playing in front of her eyes. How on earth it is possible that she is having passionate love-making in her room when she was aware of her entrapment in the Ferris Wheel?

That was the last thing she remembered. And when the rescuers found her, her hair was all white and she was covered in blood. Even the paramedics and rescuers were puzzled with that scene. What happened to her all night?

Thus that confusion leads to her being indifferent to anything else around her. She became numb. In short, she changed.

She lost interest in sex. Which (might) explain her rejection towards Sumire when Sumire wants to make love to her.

What happens to Sumire?

After ten days, still no clue on her whereabouts. Therefore, K just went back to Japan afterwards.

In the end of the story, K and Miu returned back to being strangers. At the traffic light K has described that when he saw Miu in her car waiting for the light to turn green, she seemed occupied in her own mind , ignoring K who was watching her intently from the side. Since Sumire is missing in this puzzle, both K and Miu are unable to reconnect and remain as separate pieces.

So that is the story in a nutshell. Lots of details are missing but yeah it has been months since I finished reading this book.

MY THOUGHTS

The storytelling is engaging as the story progresses in a rhythmic tempo. Like listening to an orchestra. At first it seems bearable and very entertaining. As the song goes on, the scale goes big and heavy, making you feel its too much to handle. At the end, you will be left confused of what just you experienced. You will sit there staring blankly into space, trying to recollect your balance.

Murakami has relentlessly used metaphors in his lines. Honestly I reread the same line for a few times because I just simply do not understand the meaning. Somehow I think he is playing a mind trick on me by placing the mismatched picture to lay down the details.

Ambiguous line between the reality and imagination.

Throwing doubts on my own interpretation.

Because of that, the story lingers around me for quite some time.

Literature of Murakami is eccentric. He does not intent to satisfy people by his stories, he just writes them on whim. This is a great quality of course because he provides us an escape into his unique storytelling. In all honesty I am new to his works, thus making it fairly difficult to adjust.

Sputnik Sweetheart is a story about unrequited love. All three characters stand in one line, each looking at the back of the person and unable to make them turn back.

In my mind, I pictured them to be in this order;

K-Sumire-Miu

Murakami seems to fancy the idea of loneliness and the dark side of loving someone while being alone. What a weird theme to have.

He enjoys the fact that he could celebrate the loneliness in his story (this is purely my personal opinion) and pushing it forward in his stories. On the bright side, he embraced the weak and vulnerability of human emotion by turning it into the main idea of his stories. That is my thought after reading this book.

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Would I recommend this?

Yes. But please make sure that you are prepared to be confused.  Despite that, this is a fun book to read and you might want to reread it again.

Trust me, you will get addicted to be mind fucked.

P/S :- This post took me months to complete. Pardon the incomplete content.

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami [Book Review]

  1. Sounds interesting! My type of book is usually a little more fluffy (I have crap going on in my daily life that takes up my brain power, thanks very much lol) but every once in a while I’m in the mood for something introspective. Thanks for the review!

    And nice to meet you. 🙂 I’m an author myself, so I can appreciate how much soul must have gone into a book like that. It’s really really hard to put your most inner feelings into a book that others will read. So hard that I have yet to do it, honestly! My books are on the light side.

    I look forward to more of your posts! Cheers!

    Devon
    http://www.devonandcornwall.wordpress.com

    1. hi there! Thanks for the time to read my review on this book. Yes it was difficult to write this review, I took months to complete this post.
      I will take a look at your page :). Again thanks for the comment and I appreciate your response to my post. Cheers!

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