"I read so I can live more than one life in more than one place."
- Anne Tyler
The story is narrated by K who is inlove with his best friend Sumire, who is in love with Miu, a woman seventeen years older than her. Compared to Miu who is glamorous and a successful businesswoman, Sumire is an aspiring writer and dresses in an oversized second-hand coat and heavy boots like a character in a Kerouac novel. Sumire spends hours on the phone talking to K about life and her feelings for Miu.
Sumire’s feelings for Miu causes her to change her “lifestyle” and even stops her from writing. She accepts a job offer from Miu and fly with her to Europe. K don’t have any idea about the trip until he received a letter from Sumire describing their travels across Europe and staying in a small Greek island. One night, K got a phone call from Greece but it wasn’t Sumire. It was Miu telling him that Sumire disappeared “like a smoke” and he needs to fly to the island to help searching for her.
The title came from the Russian man-made satellite named Sputnik (Sputnik I and II) which also means “travel companion”. Why Sputnik Sweetheart? I’ll leave that for you to find out.
The three characters are all suffering from loneliness brought by their own unique experiences and despite of Sumire’s disappearance, the story is not really focusing on it. The existence of “other side” (of the world) where one can go there and go back again to the “present” world is one of the main theme in this novel.
Murakami writes everything in detailed but it will not bore you to death. He is also know for his metaphors and symbols. They may cause confusions to the readers that may effect for them to get bored and stop reading. But it can also make the readers think deeply and analyze about it to know how are they related to the story or the characters. In my case, i choose the latter effect. Murakami describes Sumire’s “intense love” as:
- 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. The tornado’s intensity doesn’t abate for a second as it blasts across the ocean, laying waste to Angkor Wat, incinireting an Indian jungle, tigers and everythingm transforming itself into a Persian desert sandstorm, burying an exotic fortress city under a sea of sand.
This novel has an “open-ended” ending that will make you wonder of what really happened with the characters or the whole story itself. I want to know your opinion about the ending of this book so let me know if you’ve read this so we can maybe talk about it. I really wish I can understand Japanese so I can read the original text.
I highly recommend this book especially for those who haven’t read any of Murakami’s work. This one is a great start.