The Emissary: A Delightful, Irrepressibly Funny Book, Filled With Light

Updated: Apr 7

Its a Winner of 2018 National Book Award in Translated Literature and is one of the Library Journal Best Books of 2018. Yoko Tawada’s new novel is a breathtakingly light-hearted meditation on mortality and fully displays what Rivka Galchen has called her “brilliant, shimmering, magnificent strangeness”



The Emissary: A Delightful, Irrepressibly Funny Book, Filled With Light And One of Library Journal Best Books

Japan, after suffering from a massive irreparable disaster, cuts itself off from the world. Children are so weak they can barely stand or walk: the only people with any get-go are the elderly. Mumei lives with his grandfather Yoshiro, who worries about him constantly. They carry on a day-to-day routine in what could be viewed as a post-Fukushima time, with all the children born ancient―frail and gray-haired, yet incredibly compassionate and wise. Mumei may be enfeebled and feverish, but he is a beacon of hope, full of wit and free of self-pity and pessimism. Yoshiro concentrates on nourishing Mumei, a strangely wonderful boy who offers “the beauty of the time that is yet to come.”

“A phantasmagoric representation of humanity’s fraught relationship with technology and the natural world.” – Brian Haman, Asian Review of Books A delightful, irrepressibly funny book, The Emissary is filled with light. Yoko Tawada, deftly turning inside-out “the curse,” defies gravity and creates a playful joyous novel out of a dystopian one, with a legerdemain uniquely her own.


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