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Sputnik Sweetheart

by Huraki Murakami

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This is the first Murakami novel that I have read and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. This is not my usual genre of choice, but I did promise my son to ‘give it a go’. It’s not a cheerful read, focussing on loneliness and unrequited love and desire.

The novel is about Sumire, a young woman who wants to write and gives up everything to write. K, the young man who is hopelessly in love with her, tells the story – how she rings him at all hours to talk about music, life, her writing. He is her trusted confident, her best friend, but no more than that. K has to be satisfied with that role in her life as Sumire seems so fragile that you feel that if he were to confess his love, Sumire would just float away on the wind.

Sumire, herself, worries that she feels no desire for anyone – she is always destined to be alone, that is until she meets Miu,  a much older married woman. And here the triangle becomes complete. Just as K cannot confess his love to Sumire, so Sumire cannot confess her love to Miu. As for Miu – she is unable to feel any desire for anyone. It all seems to be an unbreakable triangle until Sumire suddenly disappears.

Murakami’s writing is deceptively simple and quite beautiful. I can’t honestly say the characters were endearing, but they were intriguing. Added to that, the introduction of the idea of parallel worlds/universes is an interesting concept – the idea that in other times and other places … As for the ending. Well, I’m still trying to decide whether it suggests hope or loss of hope.

Murakami is someone that I will read again – a nice change from my usual diet of Nordic noir.

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