The Emissary
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The Emissary

Yoko Tawada, Margaret Mitsutani

Winner of the National Book Award for Translated Literature 2018

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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