‘Sputnik Sweetheart’ by Haruki Murakami [Book Review]

sputnik sweetheart haruki murakami penguin books australia
Image: Penguin Books Australia

A friend of mine just told me how pissed she was upon reaching the end of this novel.

Another friend, on the other hand, said that she appreciated how realistic it was. She thought it was the most logical thing to happen, given the circumstances of the characters. And here I am, still left with mixed emotions.

Sputnik Sweetheart tells the story of Sumire, an aspiring writer who soon starts working for a married woman named Miu. She falls in love with this boss of hers, yet her love remains unrequited.

There is something peculiar about Miu, to begin with, and it obviously has a lot to do with why she just cannot be of interest. It’s as if she has lost a part of herself, which began with a weird incident that took place years ago. In fact, it is revealed later on that she also has a very weird relationship with her husband.

Sumire and Miu go on a trip to Europe for business. They visit France and Italy. They also spend some time in Greece. A couple of days into their stay in the country, Sumire just disappears. The story is narrated from the point of view of a guy named K. He works as a teacher and is interested in Sumire.

Although I already sensed from the very beginning that the novel wouldn’t have a happy ending, I did not lose hope. Deep within me, there was a voice saying that Sumire would still show up and that Miu would give her a chance. I could even imagine them running away to some European town for good, where they could be happy.

Yet, a part of me kept saying that those imaginings were so foolish and unrealistic. Not all stories that involve love end happily, after all. So while this novel seems to have left a void in my heart, I cannot do anything but simply accept its sad and uncertain ending.

What matters, I guess, is what this novel has done for me as a person. It didn’t fail to teach me about the ephemeral joys and wonders brought by love and the people we choose to share our limited time and hearts with.

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