The Naked Eye

Overview

“Tawada’s slender accounts of alienation achieve a remarkable potency.”—Michael Porter, The New York Times
A precocious Vietnamese high school student — known as the pupil with “the iron blouse”—in Ho Chi Minh City is invited to an International Youth Conference in East Berlin. But, in East Berlin, as she is preparing to present her paper in Russian on “Vietnam as a Victim of American Imperialism,” she is abruptly kidnapped and taken to a small town in West Germany. After a strange spell of domestic-sexual ...

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The Naked Eye

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Overview

“Tawada’s slender accounts of alienation achieve a remarkable potency.”—Michael Porter, The New York Times
A precocious Vietnamese high school student — known as the pupil with “the iron blouse”—in Ho Chi Minh City is invited to an International Youth Conference in East Berlin. But, in East Berlin, as she is preparing to present her paper in Russian on “Vietnam as a Victim of American Imperialism,” she is abruptly kidnapped and taken to a small town in West Germany. After a strange spell of domestic-sexual boredom with her lover-abductor—and though “the Berlin Wall was said to be more difficult to break through than the Great Wall of China” — she escapes on a train to Moscow . . . but mistakenly arrives in Paris. Alone, broke, and in a completely foreign land, Anh (her false name) loses herself in the films of Catherine Deneuve as her real adventures begin.
Dreamy, meditative, and filled with the gritty everyday perils of a person living somewhere without papers (at one point Anh is subjected to some vampire-like skin experiments), The Naked Eye is a novel that is as surprising as it is delightful—each of the thirteen chapters titled after and framed by one of Deneuve’s films. “As far as I was concerned,” the narrator says while watching Deneuve on the screen, “the only woman in the world was you, and so I did not exist.” By the time 1989 comes along and the Iron Curtain falls, story and viewer have morphed into the dislocating beauty of both dancer and dance.

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Editorial Reviews

Anis Shivani - The Brooklyn Rail
“A distinguished contribution to the unique paranoid style of the new European novel.”
Benjamin Lytal
“Her finest stories dramatize the fate of the individual in a mobilized world.”
Booklist
“Tawada’s chilling evocations of disorientation are the peers of Paul Bowles’ most chilling stories.”
Anis Shivani - The Huffington Post
“Honorable Mention: one of the 10 Best Books of 2009.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811217392
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 5/26/2009
  • Pages: 228
  • Sales rank: 408,621
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Yoko Tawada (March 23, 1960 - Present) is a Japanese writer currently living in Hamburg, Germany. She was born in Tokyo, received her undergraduate education at Waseda University in 1982 with a major in Russian literature, then studied at Hamburg University where she received a master's degree in contemporary German literature. She received her doctorate in German literature at the University of Zurich. In 1987 she published A Void Only Where You Are, a collection of poems in a German and Japanese bilingual edition. Tawada's Missing Heels received the Gunzo Prize for New Writers in 1991, and The Bridegroom Was a Dog received the Akutagawa Prize in 1993. In 1999 she became writer-in-residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for four months. Her Suspect on the Night Train won the Tanizaki Prize and Ito Sei Literary Prize in 2003. Tawada received the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize in 1996, and the Goethe Medal in 2005.

Susan Bernofsky is the acclaimed translator of Hermann Hesse, Robert Walser, and Jenny Erpenbeck, and the recipient of many awards, including the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize and the Hermann Hesse Translation Prize. She teaches literary translation at Columbia University and lives in New York.

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