Sputnik Sweetheart

Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart
translated by Philip Gabriel
(London: Vintage, 2002)
First published: 1999

It gave her a guilty feeling to look at her own room from so far away through the binoculars, as if she were peeking in on herself. But I’m not there, she assured herself. Of course not. There’s a phone on that table. I’d really like to place a call to that phone.

The telephone frequently surfaces in Murakami’s work, often standing between friends, lovers or old acquaintances as they contact each other from obscure, liminal places.  This passage from Sputnik Sweetheart (first published in English in 2001) depicts a curious scene haunted by images of the telephone. Here, a document written by Sumire expresses a traumatic evening fourteen years previously in which Miu gets stuck in a Ferris wheel overnight. Remembering the binoculars in her bag, Miu looks across the park to her apartment but, as she peers inside, witnesses herself engaged in a disturbing sexual act with a man who may have been stalking her. Even though the telephone is prominent throughout Sputnik Sweetheart, in this scene it seems to become the barrier that keeps Miu from ‘placing a call’ to that other part of herself. Later, she tells Sumire that ‘[she] can’t recall’ what happened after the incident, further enforcing the notion that the (phone)line between these different parts has been irreparably damaged.

by Victoria Callus