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.