'In the spring of her 22nd year, Sumire fell in love for the first time in her life. An intense love, a veritable tornado sweeping across the plains - flattening everything in its path, tossing things up in the air, ripping them to shreds, crushing them to bits' Sputnik Sweetheart
Haruki Murakami is the author of many novels as well as short stories and non-fiction. His books include Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Kafka on the Shore, 1Q84, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, The Strange Library and Wind/Pinball. His work has been translated into more than 50 languages, and the most recent of his many international honours are the Jerusalem Prize and Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award.
Murakami's seventh novel to be translated into English is a short, enigmatic chronicle of unrequited desire involving three acquaintances the narrator, a 24-year-old Tokyo schoolteacher; his friend Sumire, an erratic, dreamy writer who idolizes Jack Kerouac; and Miu, a beautiful married businesswoman with a secret in her past so harrowing it has turned her hair snowy white. When Sumire abandons her writing for life as an assistant to Miu and later disappears while the two are vacationing on a Greek island, the narrator/teacher travels across the world to help find her. Once on the island, he discovers Sumire has written two stories: one explaining the extent of her longing for Miu; the second revealing the secret from Miu's past that bleached her hair and prevents her from getting close to anyone. All of the characters suffer from bouts of existential despair, and in the end, back in Tokyo, having lost both of his potential saviors and deciding to end a loveless affair with a student's mother, the narrator laments his loneliness. Though the story is almost stark in its simplicity more like Murakami's romantic Norwegian Wood than his surreal Wind-Up Bird Chronicles the careful intimacy of the protagonists' conversation and their tightly controlled passion for each other make this slim book worthwhile. Like a Zen koan, Murakami's tale of the search for human connection asks only questions, offers no answers and must be meditated upon to provide meaning. (Apr. 30) Forecast: Long the secret delight of connoisseurs, Murakami has been steadily and quietly acquiring a wider readership. His latest offering breaks no new ground but is packaged in a striking manner and should attract a few newcomers. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Murakami's (Norwegian Wood) seventh book in translation is a love story wrapped in a mystery packaged in a light-side/dark-side philosophical wrapper. While in college, the narrator falls in love with untidy novelist manqu Sumire, who wants only to be best friends. They talk and talk. Sumire later falls hard for Miu, an older, married woman for whom she begins working. Then, on a business/pleasure trip to Greece with Miu, Sumire disappears. From a plot standpoint, this disappearance, which occurs a third of the way through the book, is the first time that anything interesting happens. The narrator's fixation on Sumire is not all that fascinating, nor is its object. As for Murakami's vaunted writing, one gets more dead-hit metaphors per ream from "commercial" writers like Loren Estleman. The philosophical black/white/doppelgnger stuff is not without interest, but not normally the stuff of the (American) mass market. Recommended for Murakami initiates and large fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/00.]DRobert E. Brown, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"Sputnik Sweetheart has touched me deeper and pushed me further
than anything I've read in a long time" -- Julie Myerson * Guardian
"How does Murakami manage to make poetry while writing of contemporary life and emotions? I am weak-kneed with admiration" * Independent on Sunday *
"A beautiful novel, as light as a feather, and yet enduringly sad... a captivating book from one of the world's most interesting authors" * Sunday Herald *
"Murakami has been compared to everyone from Raymond Carver to Raymond Chandler - which should tell you only one thing: he's unique" * Independent *
"Confirms Murakami as a master of his craft... Out of this world" * Time Out *