Friday, February 23, 2007

'The bridegroom was a dog'

by Yoko Tawada

WINNER of the Akutagawa Prize
Translated from the Japanese by Margaret Mitsutani

(Book #7 for 2007; Book #1 for my Japan Challenge)

In these three narratives, an ingenious story-teller has created a new kind of fantasy, playful yet vaguely sinister, laced with her own brand of humor, which reviewers have labeled variously as "funky," "mischievous," "weird," and "hilarious."

I took this slim book, of 3 short stories, with me to read on the train yesterday. I finished the first one, and then read the other 2 later at home. And what bizarre little stories they were too! I’m really not quite sure what to make of them.
As a young girl, Yoko Tawada made a discovery that would later mold her life. “I found it fun to speak a jumble of words, sheer nonsense, and make grown-ups laugh,” she says. Tawada has made a career from such phrases.

There seems to be a fine line between quirky and just plain weird! I guess her style just didn't work for me. I think I’ll stick with Haruki Murakami when in need of a dose of surrealistic Japanese Lit.

My Rating: 2.5/5


  1. Gosh, what a fascinating title, it sure made me curious about the book! :)

    I don't deal well with bizarre, so maybe I shouldn't try reading this book. Come to think of it, I couldn't even read Murakami, but I'm determined to try again.

    Enjoying your reviews, Nat, thank you!

  2. Yup, it was purely due to the title that I picked it up at a used book store a couple of months ago. I have to say I don't think I'd recommend it.

    If it's any consolation, when I first read a couple of Murakami's books a few years ago, I wasn't that impressed. But in the last 2 or 3 years I've read a couple more and quite enjoyed them. I think I had to grow into them, or get used to his surreal style, or something.

    And thanks. I always enjoy yours too. :)


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