book review: the bridegroom was a dog

I have a new author whose everything she’s ever written I feel the need to amass: Yoko Tawada. I picked up her book The Bridegroom was a Dog at the library used book sale several weeks ago but only just got around to reading it. I’d never heard of her and didn’t really know what to expect. What I got was awesomeness.

The book is three long stories, unrelated to each other. The title story is about an odd woman who runs a cram school. When a man shows up to live with her and clean her house and go wandering about at night she doesn’t know what to do except try to take in one of her students (the one on whose notebook all the other students wipe their snot). A mother recognizes the man as the husband of a woman in a neighbouring town and weird stuff happens.

The second story has a young woman arriving in a foreign city as a mail-order bride who never sees her husband but goes to school where they teach her about taking baths and she pulls the ears off of squid and dreams of her husband every night giving her more money and pouring ink in her ear. She explains to the doctor that her husband is a novelist. That’s why there’s ink in her ear.

And the third story is about a journalist taking a train ride through a Swiss mountain and decidedly not going to sunny Italy.

The tone for each of these stories is Murakami weird but with things happening right on top of each other. They seem unstructured rambles but work so well. Evidently Tawada writes in both Japanese and German (though this book was translated solely from Japanese). I cannot wait to find more of these things out there.

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