Scattered All Over the Earth
Fiction by Yoko Tawada
Translated from the Japanese by Margaret Mitsutani
In Scattered All Over the Earth, the mind-expanding, cheerfully dystopian new novel by Yoko Tawada, the world’s climate disaster and its attendant refugee crises is viewed through the loving twin lenses of friendship and linguistic ingenuity.
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, a former citizen and a climate refugee, 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 and Stockholm, and in a series of mesmerizing scenes encounters an umami cooking competition, a dead whale, an ultranationalist, Kakuzo robots, and much more—each scene more vivid than the last.
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 it’s just another sui generis Yoko Tawada masterwork.