Review: Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami

sputnik-sweetheart1Ah. Murakami. It’s a long time since I’ve completely immersed myself in a Murakami – by that I mean it’s a long time since I found one of his novels so utterly readable. Murakami is a very hit and miss author for me, while I sometimes love his work there have been a number of books that I’ve read and really struggled through.

Sputnik Sweetheart was one of the more readable and approachable of Murakami’s work from what I’ve experienced. While not as packed full of his usual magical realism elements, it was still a good read once I got in to it.

We follow the story of Sumire, a young woman who falls in love with another woman – Miu. It’s told from the perspective of Sumire’s friend, who we only know as K. We follow the period of Sumire’s life in which she meets Miu and how their lives overlap and fall in to sync with each other, we follow them on a tour of Europe when something then happens to Sumire.

It’s an interesting look at passion and the borderline with obsession. It was an interesting look at sexual fluidity and desire. But there was something lacking, some of this felt rushed and some felt that it wasn’t giving me all it could. The ending was just “boom and I’m done” and that frustrated me somewhat because, as always, Murakami left the ending up to interpretation for the reader rather than closing it all nicely and putting a bow on it!

This was a very passive narration which I think really fitted the story well. It was fluid and easy to read, it was quick to read. It just left me feeling a little empty. I think with Murakami, instant impressions are not a fair representation of his work because often I have to settle down and think about what I’ve actually read and process it fully. Sometimes my impressions are improved, or in the case of Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, my initial impressions are generous!

My main thought with this book is that I really need to go and readΒ 1Q84 again because this reminded me of it so much! Mainly the focus on the moon which was a really big focus inΒ 1Q84.

So, ultimately this is one of the better of Murakami’s books I’ve read but still left me wanting more. First impressions give this a 3/5!

4 thoughts on “Review: Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami

  1. I agree. What I like about Murakami is that he lets his readers do the interpretation of his works πŸ™‚

    • I like that but I also find it frustrating! I think the frustration is more of the initial feeling and the enjoyment of the open-endedness is something that comes with time!

  2. I noticed a lot of interesting similarities to 1Q84 with my recent re read of The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.

    There are a lot of similar influences and there’s throughout Murakami. I wonder how much of this is intentional or I’d he always users old things for the sake of it.

    I love the inconclusive endings you often find with Japanese stories. Murakami said in Edinburgh that western readers always want an explanation whereas Asian readers read for the experience. I like this, it is freeing.

    Although, some authors who try this do not always manage.

    I’ve yet to read this book but looking forward to it.

    • 1Q84 was my first real experience of Murakami, it was the first that I fell in love with anyway. And I think I always end up comparing everything to it and… It always leaves me disappointed with everything else! Which is a shame.

      It’s a good book! Once I got over the first few pages I was in to it fully and read it in a day. It’s just in hindsight I realise I enjoyed it when it was very realistic, then the magical realism elements kicked in and that’s when I didn’t like it so much! Which sucks because that’s the best bit of Murakami!

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