Book Review: Dance Dance Dance by Murakami Haruki

Murakami Haruki: Dance Dance Dance. 1994. Japanese: Dansu Dansu Dansu 1988.

Although Murakamis new book Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage was released on Wednesday in Japan and a wild run on the novel began as you can read here.
I kept it slow and finished my read of Dance Dance Dance which is a time travel to the 80‘s and inspired me to hear Roxy Music again. So you can call me a woman behind the moon.

What was it all about?

This is the key question of the protagonist without a name.

Dance Dance Dance
is a surreal psycho-mystery.

The main character, a divorced 34-year-old writer of odd jobs from Tokyo, tells  his story.

It begins with his trip to Sapporo.

Once he stayed there for a couple of days in the mysterious Dolphin Hotel with his girlfriend Kiki, a high-class hooker. Under unclear circumstances she vanished and was nowhere to be found.
From now on the writer is racked with guilt. He constantly hears her crying for him. He is haunted by his memories and decides to follow her crying and goes back to the place. But the old hotel was changed into a „gleaming twenty-six-story Bauhaus Modern-Art Deco symphony of glass and steel“ — the l‘Hôtel Dauphin. A spooky house with dark sites and the residence of the Sheep Man.

At the hotel lobby he gets to know the front-office girl Yumiyoshi – he fells in love with. But first all things have to get disentangled. And Yumiyoshi is not very much interested in him at the beginning.

During his stay he happened to watch a romantic movie. Kiki has a featured part in a love scene with an actor he recognizes as a former friend. Which is a breakthrough to his search.

On his way back to Tokyo the writer gets entangled with Yuki, a thirteen-year-old girl, who was left behind by her eccentric mother, Amé. The actress has forgotten her daughter in Sapporo on her way to Kathmandu. So the protagonist takes care of Yuki, bringing her back home. But it would not be a Murakami novel, when everything would develop straight away.

He will be drawn into the glamorous world of his moviestar-friend Gotanda surrounded by luxury and call girls. And soon there will be a murder of the call-girl Mei.

Driven by dreamlike unconsciousness the story goes on. What is real? What is dream?

All things are connected.

With his novel Murakami criticizes the ‚advanced capitalism‘ and the total sellout of relationships, where everything is buyable and humans are handled like things seen through the perspectives of advertising and movies, but packed with good music!

Some motives are similar to Kafka on the Shore and 1Q84 : as the cool teenage girl, the lonely writer, strange people like the Sheep Man and the unorthodox parents of Yuki,  and all the call-girls.

The reading is fun. The story takes several unforeseen turns and of course there are a lot of surreal scenes to shudder or laugh about. On the other hand you get to know the main characters via inner reflection and dialogue about their feelings.

After about 390 pages there will be a release for the writer.

And what is it all about? The Sheep Man said: Dance. You gotta dance. As long as the music plays. Dancing is everything!


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