Scattered All Over the Earth

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UPC: 9780811229289
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Authors: by Yoko Tawada (Author), Margaret Mitsutani (Translator)
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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ New Directions (March 1, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0811229289
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0811229289

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

"Tawada’s strange, exquisite book toys with ideas of language, identity, and what it means to own someone else’s story or one’s own."
― The New Yorker

"Tawada's stories agitate the mind like songs half remembered or treasure boxes whose keys are locked within."
― 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

"Tawada expands upon the themes of language, immigration, globalization, and authenticity which underpin this slyly humorous first installment of a planned trilogy."
― Kirkus, Starred Review

"Tawada slyly interrogates shifting (disappearing) borders and populations, native (invented) identities, assumptions, and adaptations. Her most frequent translator, Mitsutani, brilliantly ciphers Tawada’s magnificently inventive wordplay."
― Booklist

About the Author

Yoko Tawada was born in Tokyo in 1960, moved to Hamburg when she was twenty-two, and then to Berlin in 2006. She writes in both Japanese and German and has received the Akutagawa, Lessing, Kleist, Noma, Adelbert von Chamisso and Tanizaki prizes as well as the Goethe Medal. In 2018 her novel The Emissary won the National Book Award.

Margaret Mitsutani is a translator of Yoko Tawada (sharing her National Book Award) and Kenzaburo Oe (Japan’s 1994 Nobel Prize laureate).