Haruki Murakami’s Short Story “TV People” (1989) – Questions for Reflection

“TV People” is available in “The Elephant Vanishes”, a collection of Murakami’s short stories.

  • In what way(s) do you think the size of TV people could be important in Murakami’s short story ? Why do you think the writer has constructed these TV people as  tiny humanoids?
  • What do you think about the appearance and presence of TV people in the protagonist’s living room? Why do TV people act as if the protagonist does not exist?
  • Why can’t the protagonist concentrate on reading the magazines or Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel?
  • Why do you think the protagonist later feels that he is shrinking in size?
  • What could be the reason for the dream-like atmosphere in the story? How does it affect your reading and understanding of the story?
  • The protagonist’s colleagues in the office make jokes about him. What do these jokes reveal about themselves and the protagonist himself?
  • What message might the writer be conveying through the appearance of TV people on TV in the protagonist’s living room?
  • Find the references to an airplane in the story and then discuss what theme(s) are revealed through these references.
  • Why do you think the protagonist’s wife does not seem to notice the television or the order in the living room?
  • What do you think the story reveals about “marriage”?
  • Why does the TV people rep say “Shame about your wife” towards the end of the story?
  • What critique of modern life do you think Murakami could be making through his story?