Scattered All Over the Earth by Yoko Tawada

Scattered All Over the Earth by Yoko Tawada

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A mind-expanding, cheerfully dystopian new novel by Yoko Tawada, winner of the National Book Award

Welcome to the not-too-distant future: Japan, having vanished from the face of the earth, is now remembered as “the land of sushi.” Hiruko, its former citizen and a climate refugee herself, has a job teaching immigrant children in Denmark with her invented language Panska (Pan-Scandinavian): “homemade language. no country to stay in. three countries I experienced. insufficient space in brain. so made new language. homemade language.”

As she searches for anyone who can still speak her mother tongue, Hiruko soon makes new friends. Her troupe travels to France, encountering an umami cooking competition; a dead whale; an ultra-nationalist named Breivik; unrequited love; Kakuzo robots; red herrings; uranium; an Andalusian matador. Episodic and mesmerizing scenes flash vividly along, and soon they’re all next off to Stockholm.

With its intrepid band of companions, Scattered All Over the Earth (the first novel of a trilogy) may bring to mind Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or a surreal Wind in the Willows, but really is just another sui generis Yoko Tawada masterwork.


"Magnificently strange. Tawada is reminiscent of Nikolai Gogol, for whom the natural situation for a ghost story was a minor government employee saving up to buy a fancy coat, the natural destiny of a nose to haunt its owner as an overbearing nobleman."― Rivka Galchen, New York Times Magazine

"What is true of Hiruko, Tawada suggests, is true of everyone from the harmless Nanook to an ultranationalist called Breivik: Our national identities are at bottom simulacra, copies of originals that no longer exist, if they ever did."― Ryan Ruby, The New York Times

"Wonderful―what is truly affecting is Tawada’s language, which jumps off the page and practically sings."― Juan Vidal, NPR

"Threats abound―a changing climate, terrorism, and hostile political structures create danger and uncertainty―but these characters carry within themselves the seeds of a possible new world. Yoko Tawada’s Scattered All Over the Earth is a cheerful dystopian novel that celebrates inventiveness, possibilities, and human connections."― Foreword Reviews

Publisher: New Directions
ISBN: 978-0811229289
Pages: 256