A review by naomiwhitlock
The Emissary by Yōko Tawada


rating: 5 stars !!

okay, yeah this is a new all-time favorite book of mine, which is funny considering i read it on total accident. i went to the library and picked up as many small books as i could, so i could still enjoy stories while in school and this book ended up in my care.

the emissary is about a dystopian future where, it is alluded to, each country has exploited its use of fossil fuels (and nuclear energy?) to the point of no return. this leads to tension rising throughout a variety of the worlds largest countries. japan, deciding to hopefully save its own people from the impacts of outside-threats, shuts down its borders and begins removing any trace of other countries. english words cannot be spoken alongside phrases that originated in other parts of the world.

the main premise of the story is about the effects these fossil fuels and nuclear energy had on the people of japan. since humans were so unaware of the potential damages of the things they were putting into the environment, they ended up ruining the world around them. elders no longer can die, whilst the youth are born incredibly weak (most unable to stand or comfortably swallow food ). the ground is contaminated which has affected farms as well as wildlife (as most species have gone extinct or became inedible).

this book does a great job dissecting how important it is that we care for the world around us, as well as implementing other thoughts into the book. at one point, the elder in the book realizes that since he remembered a world without all the pollution, he almost felt trapped in the present day, when suddenly his grandson looks up and claims that this is all he’s known, he is used to the suffering. at that point would it even be considered suffering? if it is something that you have known all your life? is suffering only known after ease? the book explores all of these topics and more in less than 150 pages.

if i were to recommend a book to anyone, this would be the book.