Haruki Murakami, the internationally bestselling author of Norwegian Wood and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle , plunges us into an urbane Japan of jazz bars, coffee shops, Jack Kerouac, and the Beatles to tell this story of a tangled triangle of uniquely unrequited loves.Read more...
- Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
- Date: Oct 2013
From the book
In the spring of her twenty-second 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. The tornado's intensity doesn't abate for a second as it blasts across the ocean, laying waste to Angkor Wat, incinerating an Indian jungle, tigers and all, transforming itself into a Persian desert sandstorm, burying an exotic fortress city under a sea of sand. In short, a love of truly monumental proportions. The person she fell in love with happened to be seventeen years older than Sumire. And was married. And, I should add, was a woman. This is where it all began, and where it all wound up. Almost.
At the time, Sumire-Violet in Japanese-was struggling to become a writer. No matter how many choices life might bring her way, it was novelist or nothing. Her resolve was a regular Rock of Gibraltar. Nothing could come between her and her faith in literature.
After she graduated from a public high school in Kanagawa Prefecture, she entered the liberal arts department of a cozy little private college in Tokyo. She found the college totally out of touch, a lukewarm, dispirited place, and she loathed it-and found her fellow students (which would include me, I'm afraid) hopelessly dull, second-rate specimens. Unsurprisingly, then, just before her junior year, she just up and quit. Staying there any longer, she concluded, was a waste of time. I think it was the right move, but if I can be allowed a mediocre generalization, don't pointless things have a place, too, in this far-from-perfect world? Remove everything pointless from an imperfect life, and it'd lose even its imperfection.
Sumire was a hopeless romantic, set in her ways-a bit innocent, to put a nice spin on it. Start her talking, and she'd go on nonstop, but if she was with someone she didn't get along with-most people in the world, in other words-she barely opened her mouth. She smoked too much, and you could count on her to lose her ticket every time she rode the train. She'd get so engrossed in her thoughts at times that she'd forget to eat, and she was as thin as one of those war orphans in an old Italian movie-like a stick with eyes. I'd love to show you a photo of her, but I don't have any. She detested having her photograph taken-no desire to leave behind for posterity a Portrait of the Artist as a Young (Wo)Man. If there were a photograph of Sumire taken at that time, I know it would be a valuable record of how special certain people are.
I'm getting the order of events mixed up. The woman Sumire fell in love with was named Miu. At least that's what everyone called her. I don't know her real name, a fact that caused problems later on, but again I'm getting ahead of myself. Miu was Korean by nationality, but until she decided to study Korean when she was in her midtwenties, she didn't speak a word of the language. She was born and raised in Japan and studied at a music academy in France, so she was fluent in both French and English in addition to Japanese. She always dressed well, in a refined way, with expensive yet modest accessories, and she drove a twelve-cylinder navy-blue Jaguar.
The first time Sumire met Miu, she talked to her about Jack Kerouac's novels. Sumire was absolutely nuts about Kerouac. She always had her literary Idol of the Month, and at that point it happened to be the out-of-fashion Kerouac. She carried a dog-eared copy of On the Road or Lonesome Traveler stuck in her coat pocket, thumbing through it every chance she got. Whenever she ran across lines she liked, she'd mark...
"Grabs you from its opening lines. . . . [Murakami's] never written anything more openly emotional." - Los Angeles Magazine
"Murakami is a genius." - Chicago Tribune
"Murakami has an unmatched gift for turning psychological metaphors into uncanny narratives." - The New York Times Book Review
"An agonizing, sweet story about the power and the pain of love. . . . Immensely deepened by perfect little images that leave much to be filled in by the reader's heart or eye." - The Baltimore Sun
"[Murakami belongs] in the topmost rank of writers of international stature." - Newsday
"Murakami's true achievement lies in the humor and vision he brings to even the most despairing moments." - The New Yorker
"Perhaps better than any contemporary writer, [Murakami] captures and lays bare the raw human emotion of longing." - BookPage
"Murakami . . . has a deep interest in the alienation of self, which lifts [Sputnik Sweetheart] into both fantasy and philosophy." - San Francisco Chronicle
"Not just a great Japanese writer but a great writer, period." - Los Angeles Times Book Review