Yoko Tawada: Translating Transnational Identities 

Submitted by Michael Neininger on
Yoko Tawada

Yoko Tawada’s transnational narratives often place a Japanese narrator into a German-speaking environment where the reader is forced to view German culture through a Japanese lens. Several of her early short stories included elements of Japanese mythology retold in an international space.

Originally written in Japanese, Yoko Tawada’s short story “Fersenlos” (English: Missing Heels) is a quirky, feminist retelling of a Japanese ghost story. In the original ghost story, the ghost bride appears to her lover as a beautiful woman but each night she drains her victim of his life energy until he is a lifeless husk. In Yoko Tawada’s retelling, the narrator, a mail order bride from an unknown country, resists her husband’s attempts to control her in her dreams as she attempts to navigate and understand the new country in which she finds herself. In the end she sees him in her original animal form as a squid, upon which he promptly dies and his remaining control over her dissolves.

“Missing Heels” is in the short story collection The Bridegroom as a Dog (Amazon)

Yoko Tawada’s personal website: http://yokotawada.de/