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The Emissary

por Yoko Tawada

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2872169,495 (3.42)22
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 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.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 21 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
In this smothering marshmallow apocalyptic book a starving and isolated Japan is run by healthy elderly moving spryly into their second century caring for great-grandchildren who can hardly move for themselves. The author portrays a fey and fragile future, then has enough of the whole thing and brings it to a strange and abrupt end. ( )
  quondame | Jul 8, 2020 |
Interesting until the last 20 pages or so. I didn't care for the ending. ( )
  tronella | Jun 6, 2020 |
Weird, weird, weird but oddly beautiful. The story takes place in a Japan facing some kind of biological crisis. Children are being born but they are deteriorating into fragility. This leaves the elderly responsible for the maintenance of the future. Tawada provides an interesting perspective on social mores and responsibility. ( )
  RoeschLeisure | Apr 15, 2020 |
In a vaguely distant future Japan that has reverted to extreme isolationism in the face of an ecological or man-made disaster, an elderly (but still vibrant) great-grandfather, Yoshiro, is the sole carer for Mumei, his great-grandson. Along with aggressive restrictions against foreign ideas, technology, and words, nature itself has rebelled. The lives of the young are excessively precarious, either due to mutation or some other change. Mumei, for example, loses all of his baby teeth at once, has difficulty walking, and has a peculiar relationship to his own sensations and emotions. But Yoshiro’s care for him is unquestioned, despite his own failed marriage and earlier experiences with his own daughter and grandson. There is a recurring mention of emissaries, both in the form of a novel that Yoshiro wrote years earlier but never managed to get published and in the need for actual emissaries to go abroad surreptitiously in order, perhaps, to reforge Japan’s ties with the wider world.

This is a strange, almost oblique, novel. The characters are nearly transparent. So much so that you may begin to think that it sounds like a novelization of a futuristic Japanese anime. I found that although the overall story was curiously compelling, I never felt at home in the story. And I wasn’t certain that the transformation at the end was fully earned (a point which might hold for early points as well). However, the premise was so out-there that I would certainly be willing to read further works by Tawada on the basis of this one.

Gently recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Mar 19, 2020 |
The Emissary has a layer of whimsy that contradicts the horrors of the post-apocalyptic story it tells. This contradiction is compelling, but also distancing. Take away the whimsy and what's left reminds me of Ibuse's Black Rain, the story of a young woman's slow death from radiation poisoning following the bombing of Hiroshima, as told through her uncle's diaries. Both novels tell the story of a young person with no future, and of a civilization with no hope. They both beautifully capture the stoic-with-a-smile fatalism of Japanese culture, too, where people honor their obligations even in the most apocalyptic circumstances. But Ibuse's novel is almost unbearably truthful and intimate, whereas Tawada's has a sheen of light-hearted detachment. Ibuse's novel is unforgettable, and Tawada's novel never became more than a what-if exercise: interesting to read, full of fascinating detail about one possible future, but lacking any deeper follow-through to make it memorable.

( )
  poingu | Feb 22, 2020 |
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Tawada, YokoAutorautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Mitsutani, MargaretTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Pörtner, PeterTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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Still in his blue silk pajamas, Mumei sat with his bottom flat on the tatami.
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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 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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