book review: facing the bridge

I enjoy the length of Yoko Tawada’s stories. Like the other books of hers I’ve read, Facing the Bridge is a collection of three longish short stories, like 60 pages each. It’s an oddish length, which works because they’re oddish stories. The perfect kinds of things to sit down with on an afternoon and read.

In this book the three stories are about a Japanese exchange student in Germany and the first African to get a PhD in philosophy (back in the 1700s). The two parts to the story blurred into each other at the edges. There were no breaks between talking about Amo (the Ghanian) and Tamao (the Japanese student). The second story is about a Japanese tourist who goes to Vietnam. This was my favourite in the book because of her talking about what a tourist’s role is as she buys coconuts and goes to see temples. And there are these wonderful non sequiturs about fearing becoming pregnant. The last story is about translating and living in the Canary Islands. It was the weirdest of the three (though all were plenty odd).

There’s just so much in Tawada’s odd characters and their not entirely rational decisions they make that I find very attractive, in an intriguing kind of way.

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