Book Review: Dance Dance Dance

Today, I am through with the Around the World Reading challenge. Got there in time! My final stop is Asia, and Haruki Murakami. I actually first started reading his book Kafka on the Shore but realized quite soon that I’d already read it. I had no recollection of reading it, but I obviously had since I could even remember details. I remember it was a good book, so I decided not to change authors and picked another one of his books.

Dance Dance Dance tells the story of a man who searches for something, although I’m not quite sure what. He wanders around in a world that is mostly a normal slice of Japan, but occasionally this world dips deep into surreal. The plot is well-built with many elements. The back cover describes Murakami’s book as “a philosophical thriller”, which is a good description in my opinion.

My five-year-old thought this book had the coolest cover with all those skeletons, a fairly realistic depiction of one scene in the book. “Your book is scary, Mommy!” I felt proud. I don’t get that very often.
The story is very enjoyable. It leads one to visit strange places, and meet interesting people with a few murders thrown in. The writing is just the way I like it, beautiful but effortless to read. This is the kind of book that evokes many thoughts and feelings, but somehow I have difficulty writing them down here. I think partly this is because I don’t want to give anything away.

The story has many magical elements and reminds me of time-space warps. People exist on many levels, time occasionally seems to stop and fantasy bleeds into reality. The protagonist wonders at one point in the novel how he can tell what is real and what isn’t. What if the weird things that happen to him are the reality, and what he believes is the reality is the fantasy?

I’m not really sure what the book is about. It reminds me of Kafka’s Trial. It reminds me of someone slipping and sliding on the verge of insanity. It is maybe a growth story, maybe a circle around the tree of life. I don’t know, really, and I find that delightful.

I thought this was a very good read. Fun, entertaining, and thought-provoking. For some reason, maybe due to all the weird things that make this book so far removed from authentic life, I didn’t quite feel that emotional connection that makes me think a book is great. I enjoyed it a lot, but it didn’t really make me feel passion. It was a little like watching aliens play football: interesting, fascinating, fun but not really from this world.

I bet there are many other great Asian writers out there but Haruki seems to get most of the attention. Please let me know in the comments if you’ve got other suggestions for Asian writers I should be reading. I would love to know.



Book tour around the world recap: A wonderful challenge, and a  great idea. I found my literary horizons broadened greatly by looking into books from non-English-speaking continents. I’ve already got quite a few good titles lined up that I wrote down as interesting but haven’t gotten round to yet. If you haven’t done this yet, I recommend it.

A tip: google for lists of great novels from each continent, or else you could take a look at the challenge webpage, which includes book reviews of the books read by other bloggers. The link is here.

Read around the world! It’s almost as good as traveling!


9 thoughts on “Book Review: Dance Dance Dance

  1. Congratulations on finishing the challenge! I read Murakami for the first time this year (IQ84). I feel like you do about him. His writing is very interesting, hard to describe, but I don’t feel especially connected to any of the characters, so I don’t love it. Glad you enjoyed the challenge.


      1. My favorite Murakami book is “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” and “After Dark.” Right now, I’m working on “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki.”


  2. I have also finished my first book of murakami this year (the strange library) and this book was really, really out of the world. Congrats on finishing the challenge!


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