A club where we dive into fresh English translations of stand-out fiction from around the world.
This month's book club pick is The Emissary by Yoko Tawada, translated by Margaret Mitsutani.
Japan, after suffering from a massive irreparable disaster, cuts itself off from the world. Children are so weak they can barely stand or walk: the only people with any get-go are the elderly. Mumei lives with his grandfather Yoshiro, who worries about him constantly. They carry on a day-to-day routine in what could be viewed as a post-Fukushima time, with all the children born ancient--frail and gray-haired, yet incredibly compassionate and wise. Mumei may be enfeebled and feverish, but he is a beacon of hope, full of wit and free of self-pity and pessimism. Yoshiro concentrates on nourishing Mumei, a strangely wonderful boy who offers "the beauty of the time that is yet to come."
A delightful, irrepressibly funny book, The Emissary is filled with light. Yoko Tawada, deftly turning inside-out "the curse," defies gravity and creates a playful joyous novel out of a dystopian one, with a legerdemain uniquely her own.
Recessive, lunar beauty [with] a high sheen. Her language has never been so arresting—flickering brilliance. —Parul Sehgal, The New York Times
Yoko Tawada was born in Tokyo in 1960 and moved to Germany when she was twenty-two. She writes in both Japanese and German and has received the Akutagawa Prize, the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize, the Goethe Medal, and the Tanizaki Prize.
Margaret Mitsutani is a translator of Yoko Tawada and Japan's 1994 Nobel Prize laureate Kenzaburo Oe.
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