Read “Dance Dance Dance” by Haruki Murakami, You Will Invited to Tokyo

Ronald Susilo got an invitation from Tokyo, sent by an organization of literature there. They need answers from Ronald, then they will send him a ticket to Japan. How that WOW moment happens? Check this out!

read dance dance dance by haruki murakami you will invited to tokyo
Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami

Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami and An Invitation from Tokyo

By: M. Ronald Susilo

One day, in early morning of September, I got an email. My friend forwarded me a letter that he got from one big organization of literature in Japan. In that email there were some questions about Murakami’s novel and if we could answer all of that questions (only write your idea), without evaluate by juries, thus send back to them and they promised in two days after they had received, they will inform that I will be invited to come to Japan. All of transportation and accommodation during the time in Tokyo is free.

The novel that the organization chooses is Dance Dance Dance. So, here are all the questions and my answers. Hopefully, all of you who read this will have an opportunity too; go to Tokyo with me in the couple of days. Let’s check it out.

What was your initial reaction to the book? Did it hook you immediately or take some time to get it?

From the first page especially on the opening sentence I immediately be pulled in to the fantasy world of Murakami. “I often dream about the Dolphin Hotel”. I remember about A Wild Sheep Chase, where the Dolphin Hotel is a transit place before the protagonist wants to find Rat. The word “Dream” calls my sense of liking to know what incident will be happened.

All people have a dreams. But are that dreams good or bad? And how about the story of that dream? Is it interesting or not? If all this novel tells us about a dream, why should I believe that dream? The opening of the story, first sentence is important.

Do you think the story was plot based or character driven?

I think, plot base is one of methods used by writers to tell a story and focus on time development, but character driven is focus on character development in entire story. That is my opinion. If I start with that definition, I think this novel is character driven. Murakami only talks about how protagonist involved in all of event or how protagonist overcome all of his situation that come to him with a strange, surreal, weird and even irrational terms and condition.

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What was your favorite quote/passage?

I find some funny, genius, and nice sentences in this novel:

  • “I had a sense about which women I ought to sleep with. And which women I’d be able to sleep with, which not. May be even which I shouldn’t sleep with. It’s an intelligence that comes with age.” (P.13). 
  • “That hotel had its own ghost story-every hotel’s probably got one-but we all could laugh at it.” (P.46). 
  • “How do prostitutes keep their private sex separate from their professional sex?” (P.161). 
  • “People fall in love without reason, without even wanting to. You can’t predict it. That’s love.” (P.211).

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What made the setting unique or important? Could the story have taken place anywhere?

I think the setting can take place anywhere. The unique of setting emerges because of gentle description that call all of our five organ of sense. I am very fond when Haruki describes about elevator or about waiting a call from a telephone.

When someone enter the elevator in the dolphin hotel, someone will meet another world in the elevator. The sound from the roof, the smell inside, how cold the wall is, the design, and how about the experience inside the elevator, all of these things make us feel that not a protagonist but we are entering the elevator. That experiences become our experiences. The same as waiting a call for a telephone. Haruki makes a “terror” into our body. This “terror” makes us addicted.

Did you pick out any themes throughout the book?

About themes, same as another Haruki’s novel, there are lot of themes within the novel. Not a specific one. It depends on us as a reader, what do we wants or what do we interest or focus on it. In my head, the themes of this novel is about loss and abandonment. May be if you have read this novel, you can say this is about gender, sexuality or something. It is very depending on us as a reader.

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Any if/then questions?

This question makes us being “suppose” as actors in this novel. If I were a protagonist, then what should I act at the end of this novel. If I were Yuki what should I do; while my mother leaving her daughter for working? I wonder, if I were a protagonist, I will hold Yumiyoshi’s hand so I can enter the other world where the sheep man and other actors live after death, so I can find out the rest of all secret unreadable.

How credible/believable did you find the narrator to be? Did you feel like you got the true story?

This novel tells a story about an unnamed protagonist who is forced to return to Dolphin hotel where he ever sleeps with his girlfriend but he never knew her name. His girlfriend disappeared without any direction. In his dream, the unnamed protagonist feels, hears, or interacted with his girlfriend and sheep man that lead him to find out two mysteries. In this adventure, a protagonist meets Yuki and Yumiyoshi. The story is mixed with real and surreal situations.

It’s very good compilation. So, is this story real or unreal doesn’t have any affect to me, but it is very credible or believable.

How did the characters change throughout the story? How did your opinion of them change?

The character, especially a protagonist, change because of lot of tragedy in his life. I’m very interested by how Murakami gives a problem to this character. It makes me feel that a protagonist is human being not a doll of that story.

How did structure of the book affect the story?

The structure of this novel is very common. Straight forward. We do not need to look back from the early pages. Just sit and read it then happy.

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Which character did you relate to the most, and what was it about them that you connected with?

The unnamed protagonist is most important actors in this novel. I’m very fond of him. How he interact with all of women in this novel, how he think about his life, world and other is same as I am.

How did you feel about the ending? What did you like and what do you wish had been different?

I feel that, the end of this novel is Murakami’s way; not a happy ending nor sad ending, but Murakami’s ending.

Did the book change your opinion or perspective about anything? Do you feel different how than you did before you read it?

Yes, this book changes my perspective about work. When I read Dance Dance Dance, I figured out how about change the word Dance with Work. The original quote like this: “Dancing is everything, Dance so it all keeps spinning. If you do that, we might be able to do something for you. You gotta dance. As long as the music plays…. Dance, it’s the only way. Wish we could explain things better. But we told you all we could. Dance. Don’t think. Dance. Dance your best, like your life depended on it. You gotta dance.” (sheep man).

If the book were being adapted into a movie, who would you want to see play what parts?

I want to see who acts as a protagonist and who acts as women from this novel. It’ll be awesome to think about that.

Also read: About Haruki Murakami’s Hear the Wind Sing …

Until now, I never received email from organization of literature in Japan. It is only a dream? Or that email is hoax? I don’t know. But I make a decision to send this transcription to my good friend: Armin Bell. Because I know exactly my asking for uploading my transcription will approved.

M. Ronald Susilo
UPH EEC, Semanggi, 3 November 2017, 14.21
Dokter Ronald lives in Ruteng, founder of Petra Book Club.

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  1. Just wait and see doc… Amazing thing is on the way. Who knows you'll meet Haruka Murakami in Japan when you take your doctoral study there :-). Keep on reading, writing and providing the fantastic 'lemper' on every Petra book discussion which hopefully will be held soon.

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