Winner of 2018 National Book Award in Translated Literature
Library Journal Best Books of 2018
Yoko Tawada’s new novel is a breathtakingly light-hearted meditation on mortality and fully displays what Rivka Galchen has called her “brilliant, shimmering, magnificent strangeness”
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.
Born in Tokyo in 1960, Yoko Tawada writes in both Japanese and German: she has received the Akutagawa, Kleist, Lessing, Noma, Adelbert von Chamisso, and Tanizaki prizes, as well as the Goethe Medal. Her novel The Emissary won the National Book Award. Rivka Galchen in the New York Times Magazine hailed her work as “magnificently strange.”
Margaret Mitsutani is a translator of Yoko Tawada (sharing her National Book Award) and Kenzaburo Oe (Japan’s 1994 Nobel Prize laureate).
This morning the National Book Foundation has announced the finalists for the 2018 National Book Awards in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Books in Translation and Young Peoples’ Literature. Click here to browse all of the 2018 National Book Award Finalists. Selected from these lists of five finalists in each category, the winners will be […]