Sputnik Sweetheart is the 5th book I have read from Haruki Murakami, the renowned Japanese author. I've read "Norwegian Wood" and "The Windup Bird Chronicles" in Turkish and "South of the Border, West of the Sun", "Underground" and "Sputnik Sweetheart" in English and in that order. I think I've become pretty accustomed to his style. The first thing that comes to my mind about the book is that I learned Sputnik means "travel companion" in Russian. I am surprised I did not know this since I am generally interested in this kind of information. It turns out a simple wikipedia search would have done it ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sputnik ). Maybe I read it before, but it didn't strike me as in this love novel. Here's the part that makes Sputnik more interesting :) :
And it came to me then. That we were wonderful traveling companions but in the end no more than lonely lumps of metal in their own seperate orbits. From far off they look like beautiful shooting stars, but in reality they're nothing more than prisons, where each of us is locked up alone, going nowhere. When the orbits of these satellites of ours happened to cross paths, we could be together. Maybe even open our hearts to each other. But that was only for the briefest moment. In the next instant we'd be in absolute solitude. Until we burned up and became nothing.
From Page 117.
This excerpt also shows the two characteristics of Murakami-san that I really like. The first is his powerful metaphores, you are directly absorbed into these. Here's another excerpt:
Who can really distinguish between the sea and what's reflected in it?
Or tell the difference between the falling rain and loneliness?
The other thing apparent from the Sputnik passage in my opinion is the main focus of most Murakami novels: Unrequited love. Unrequited love is the main topic of this novel and it is important in others. This is a very intense love, paralyzing the characters. Their life changes as a result. In nearly all novels of his I've read so far, there's some kind of unrequited love playing an important part in the course of events.
Murakami-san makes heavy use mystical motifs as well. One obvious example is "The Windup Bird Chronicle" where the reader constantly witnesses mystical events happening. Sputnik Sweetheart is no different on this subject. Mysticism and reality gets so crossed over you get confused many times.
All in all, the book unravels the events smoothly as ever, just what you'd expect from a Murakami. Easy to read, high on the enjoyment. I sincerely recommend it to every avid bookworm.