Memoirs of a Polar Bear | Granta

Memoirs of a Polar Bear

Yoko Tawada

Translated by Susan Bernofsky

Three bears.

The first, a diligent memoirist whose unlikely success forces her to flee Soviet Russia.

The second, her daughter, a skilled dancer in an East Berlin circus.

The third, Knut, a baby bear born and raised in Berlin Zoo at the beginning of the 21st century.

Here, then, is the enchanting story of three extraordinary bears, brought to life by one of Japan’s most inventive and dazzling novelists.

  • Published: 02/11/2017
  • Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781846276323
  • 129x20mm, 256 pages

In chronicling the lives of three generations of uniquely talented polar bears, the fantastically gifted Yoko Tawada has created an unforgettable meditation on celebrity, art, incarceration, and the nature of consciousness. Tawada is, far and away, one of my favourite writers, working today - thrilling, discomfiting, uncannily beautiful, like no one you have ever read before. Memoirs of a Polar Bear is Tawada at her best: humanity, as seen through the eyes of these bears, has never looks quite so stirringly strange.

Laura van den Berg, author, Find Me

Enchanting... an absorbing work from a fascinating mind

Kirkus

Disconcerting and exhilaratingly strange. With a deft wave of her literary wand, Tawada dissolves the frontier between humans and animals, disorientating us so that we can be more properly oriented towards ourselves

Charles Foster

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 published several books-stories, novels, poems, plays, essays-in both languages. She has received numerous awards for her writing including the Akutagawa Prize, the Kleist-Prize, the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize, the Tanizaki Prize, and the Goethe Medal. New Directions publishes her story collections Where Europe Begins (with a Preface by Wim Wenders) and Facing the Bridge, and her novel of Catherine Deneuve obsession, The Naked Eye.

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The Translator

SUSAN BERNOFSKY has translated works by Robert Walser, Hermann Hesse, Gregor von Rezzori, Yoko Tawada, Ludwig Harig and Franz Kafka. She is the author of Foreign Words: Translator-Authors in the Age of Goethe and is currently at work on a biography of Robert Walser. Her translation of The Old Child and Other Stories was awarded the 2006 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize.

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From the Same Author

The Last Children of Tokyo

, translated by Margaret Mitsutani

Yoshiro thinks he might never die. A hundred years old and counting, he is one of Japan’s many ‘old-elderly’; men and women who remember a time before the air and the sea were poisoned, before terrible catastrophe promted Japan to shut itself off from the rest of the world. He may live for decades yet, but he knows his beloved great-grandson – born frail and prone to sickness – might not survive to adulthood. Day after day, it takes all of Yoshiro’s sagacity to keep Mumei alive.

As hopes for Japan’s youngest generation fade, a secretive organisation embarks on an audacious plan to find a cure – might Yoshiro’s great-grandson be the key to saving the last children of Tokyo?

Yoko Tawada on Granta.com

Fiction | Granta 142

The Last Children of Tokyo

Yoko Tawada

‘Encountering a real animal – not just its name – would have set Mumei’s heart on fire.’ Translated from the Japanese by Margaret Mitsutani.

Fiction | Granta 142

Memoirs of a Polar Bear

Yoko Tawada

‘I was perfectly content with my new life until I began to write my autobiography.’

Fiction | Granta 142

To Zagreb

Yoko Tawada

‘You didn’t know where you wanted to end up, had never considered how much time you had left.’