Combining the early, straightforward seductions of Norwegian Wood and the complex mysteries of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, this new novel -- his seventh translated into English -- is Haruki Murakami at his most satisfying and representative best.
Why do people have to be this lonely? What's the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?
The scenario is as simple as it is uncomfortable: a college student falls in love (once and for all, despite everything that transpires afterward) with a classmate whose devotion to Kerouac and an untidy writerly life precludes any personal commitments -- until she meets a considerably older and far more sophisticated businesswoman. It is through this wormhole that she enters Murakami's surreal yet humane universe, to which she serves as guide both for us and for her frustrated suitor, now a teacher. In the course of her travels from parochial Japan through Europe and ultimately to an island off the coast of Greece, she disappears without a trace, leaving only lineaments of her fate: computer accounts of bizarre events and stories within stories. The teacher, summoned to assist in the search for her, experiences his own ominous, haunting visions, which lead him nowhere but home to Japan -- and there, under the expanse of deep space and the still-orbiting Sputnik, he finally achieves a true understanding of his beloved.
A love story, a missing-person story, a detective story -- all enveloped in a philosophical mystery -- and, finally, a profound meditation on human longing.
Chapter One from The New York Times
Lost in Orbit - New York Times review by DANIEL ZALEWSKI
The Observer review by Zoe Green
Murakami brings the hidden to light 'Sputnik' fueled by thwarted desire reviewed by Francie Lin
Realm of the Senseless - The Village Voice reviewed by Dennis Lim
Quarterly Conversation review by Scott Esposito
Ink19 review by Terry Eagan
Complete-review.com page on Sputnik Sweetheart