A review by cstefko
The Emissary by Yōko Tawada


3.5 stars

This was definitely an interesting read... It was more surrealist literary fiction than sci-fi/dystopia, in my opinion--the worldbuilding is a bit sporadic and doesn't explain everything, so fans of airtight science fiction will probably be disappointed with this one. The dystopian elements are really there to serve as metaphors and comment on some of the issues real-life Japan is facing (aging population, climate change & nuclear disaster, etc.). It's a strange little book, but I found myself really caring about Yoshiro and Mumei. I didn't care for the way Tawada abruptly shifted to the POV of Yoshiro's wife and Mumei's teacher towards the end of the book, after only hearing Yoshiro and Mumei's thoughts in the first two thirds or so. There's some clever wordplay and a lyrical quality to the writing that I really appreciated. I won't say I loved this book, but it made me think, and I'm glad to have chanced upon it at the library. It almost feels like I just experienced a very bizarre dream :P.