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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel (Translator)

Blurb (from the jacket):

Sumire is in love with a woman seventeen years her senior. But whereas Miu is glamorous and successful, Sumire is an aspiring writer who 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 her best friend K about the big questions in life: what is sexual desire, and should she ever tell Miu how she feels for her? Meanwhile K wonders whether he should confess his own unrequited love for Sumire. 

Then, a desperate Miu calls from a small Greek island: Sumire has mysteriously vanished...

My take on the book:
Murakami. The name was always fascinating. He is such a dynamic literary figure. His works are celebrated the best of literature. His stories and narration, doesn't need much deliberation. If you know him, you have - or ought to - read him. If you don't, you are not much into reading. That is how it goes.

I didn't know someone with that name even existed, until Srinivas, the other nonexistent author of this blog, introduced me to his works. Kafka on the Shore  was the first book I read from him and was sheer blown away by its intensity. It was 400-something thick and with tiniest of fonts, it is an achievement in itself that I got through it. It was my first exposure to the genre, Magical Realism.

Like when I was reading that book, even now I wonder what it, Magical Realism, actually means. I had done a lot of research, enquired a lot of people. Still I'm dubious. No satisfactory answer. I let it be. Anyway, the genre interests me no end.

When I started reading this book, I knew only two things. This book has lesbians and Magical Realism in it. Some of my friends laughed, because I had just completed reading a Gay novel (Cobalt Blue) and now I am up to reading a Lesbian story.

I was pretty excited to read. After all, it is Murakami.

I always have this dilemma of whether to praise the author for the narration of the book, because it is the translated work. If I have to praise anyone for the choice of phrases or words or narrative style, I had to  praise the translator and it would be total discredit to the author himself. I came to learn from one of my friends that Murakami is by the side of translator when his work is being translated, going through everything himself and helping out the translator at every level of translation. That means I sure can praise the author for the poetic language. Seriously. Murakami writes poems in the form of prose!

Having said all that, I hate to confess that I didn't enjoy the book. Well, I did a bit, but not as much as I had expected. My expectations after reading Kafka on the Shore is pretty high on this book. GLBT and Magical Realism, a pretty intriguing combination I was hoping.

The key roles of the story are Miu and Sumire, and it is pretty innovative to know that the story is narrated by a third-person, K. The protagonist. You will exactly get what I am talking about once you read the book. First-person narratives always have a limitation of not being able to describe the scenes which don't take in the protagonist's presence. But in this book, the first chapter itself describes Miu's and Sumire's first meeting, where the protagonist is absent. It spoils the very point of  First-person's narration. But then, the author has so finely crafted it that the folly is covered up. You realise that it is actually you who committed the folly by jumping to the conclusion so fast.

To cut down your expectations, which might result in disappointment after you read the book, I will reveal that the Magical Realism part is very little. It is only towards the end, for a very few pages. So it is better if you read the book with little expectations and concentrate high on the narration!

It is worth to know the meaning behind the title. If not for anything else, read the book to learnt the meaning...



Title: Sputnik Sweetheart

Author: Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel (Translator)

ISBN (edition I've read): 9780099448471


Read between: 05-08-2014 to 17-08-2014

Publishers: Vintage Publishers

Pages: 229

MRP: ₹ 499

The best deal for this book could be found here:  

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