The Emissary – by Yoko Tawada

This novella is set in a dystopian Japan in an unknown future. Tokyo is not environmentally safe to live in due to a natural catastrophe and man-made incidents, the elderly (over 100 years old) seem to be immortal and take care of the children who were born weak and deformed, Japan is isolated with the world, and Japanese people are not allowed to use any foreign words.

Yoko Tawada tackled some big issues in Japan society thru her beautiful writing in this slim novel – aging population, environmental degradation and isolated nationalism. However I thought the story was under-developed and ended abruptly.

First published in Japanese in 2014, in English in 2018 by New Directions Publishing, this book won the inaugural National Book Award in translated literature in 2018.

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