Sputnik Sweetheart

K loves Sumire who loves Miu who loves no one. Thus begins this small Haruki Murakami novel. It’s a simple premise that’s been done before (though not as often with a straight boy-lesbian girl-indifferent woman triangle), but Murakami’s writing makes it a very enjoyable read.

K is our narrator (his name is never revealed—only Sumire refers to him as “K”); and he is madly in love with Sumire—not that it stops him from sleeping with married women (more on that later). They are as close as friends as they could be, since Sumire lives in her own bubble. But that bubble pops when she meets Miu (a silver foxy lady who confuses the term “beatnik” with “Sputnik”); and it’s basically all downhill from there.

Sputnik Sweetheart transforms from a love story to a mystery to a basic character study all in the span of 200 pages, and the best part is that Murakami makes it work so well. My biggest problem with the novel is that Murakami tacks on a pointless section post-mystery that does nothing to advance the story. It seems like a wayward short story that was attached at the end to give the book more length. And that phone call at the end (which I will chose to believe was a dream) seemed like a lame attempt to enhance the story.

But otherwise, it is a fairly solid novel (just stop reading around the time K returns to Japan). He certainly knows how to create engaging characters with very curious backstories. And I’m definitely interested in reading more of Murakami’s work (since I know this wasn’t his best novel).

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