Read by Adam Sims
Haruki Murakami is unquestionably Japan’s leading novelist with his many works − fiction and non-fiction − consistently reflecting contemporary Japanese life while, unusually, sustaining an international appeal through a deeply human perspective. Sputnik Sweetheart is his ninth novel, written in 1999, and tells the story of a young woman − Sumire, an aspiring writer − who falls in love with an older, successful businesswoman and wine expert, Miu. Their relationship is told through the eyes of Sumire’s close (male) friend. It is a curious, mysterious tale, told with the compassion and quirkiness that is the hallmark of Murakami’s writing.
Running Time: 7 h 6 m
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ISBN: 978-1-84379-804-0 Digital ISBN: 978-1-84379-805-7 Cat. no.: NA0165 CD RRP: $41.98 USD Download size: 169 MB
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Adam Sims projects the unrequited desire of the male narrator of this novel, featuring a love triangle of unfulfilled longing. Sims’s narration is melodic, dreamy, and wistful, characteristics that are all suitable, even necessary, for a first-person point of view that meanders through recollections of love gone awry. Die-hard Murakami fans may be distracted by the pronounced American accent used to portray the cast of Japanese characters. Interestingly, Sims doesn’t affect Asian-accented English for this volume as other narrators may have done; his choices likely will highlight the universal nature of love for the majority of listeners. He treats female characters with the same steady tone he gives the male protagonist, rendering this an overall even performance.
The skilled narration assures you that everything is real, but reality for ‘K’, a Tokyo teacher who sleeps with his pupils’ mothers, is ‘a cardigan with the buttons done up wrong’. ‘K’ is in love with Sumire, a needy aspiring novelist in clumpy workbooks, who looks on ‘K’ as her friend but is in love with Miu, an older woman hiding a curious past. Each layer of the mystery deepens the ramifications of isolation and love. Wonderful.
Rachel Redford, The Oldie