Facing the Bridge by Yoko Tawada, translated with an afterword by Margaret Mitsutani [in Bloomsbury Review]
If I were to make my mother the happiest mother in the world, I’d finish at least one of my PhDs by writing that elusive dissertation on Yoko Tawada and her fantastical, enigmatic, revisionist, ambiguous short stories. As a Japanese ex-pat living in Germany – writing in both languages and winning the top literary prizes in both countries – Tawada has literary imaginings that are ensconced in an in-between world without definitions, beyond borders.
Tawada’s latest collection in English translation offers three stories: An African slave boy becomes a troubled German philosophy professor (based on a real historical figure); a young Japanese woman leaves Berlin to travel in Vietnam and alphabetically fractionalizes her identity as Ms. A, B, C, and so on; and a Japanese translator hides out in the Canary Islands vacation home of a near-stranger, desperate to make sense of a text by real-life German writer Anne Duden. You’ve got to read to believe – even then, you’ll be wondering what just happened.
Published: 2007 (United States)