June 26, 2022




4 min read

BOOK REVIEW EDITOR ELLA KELLEHER WRITES – What would occur in case your nation sank into the ocean? Would you continue to have a declare to your “homeland”? What concerning the language you communicate? Might it nonetheless be thought-about your “native language”?

In Yoko Tawada’s newest launch of dystopian fiction, Scattered All Over the Earth (2022), “the land of sushi” (presumably Japan) disappears because of international warming and rising sea ranges. In consequence, the nation lingers on solely in its kitschy and most digestible type. Whereas nobody remembers the precise identify of the disappeared land, folks do reminisce on anime, miso soup, and cosplay.

(Writer Yoko Tawada)

Japan was already gone in additional methods than one. Urbanization led to the leveling of the nation’s sacred mountain ranges. The nation’s intercourse drive had grow to be “virtually extinct.” The overworked and uncared for Japanese folks finally couldn’t “distinguish between the digital and actual worlds” as soon as human connections grew to become a luxurious most individuals couldn’t afford. Japan was not the one nation destined for disappearing. The apocalypse casts a shadow that spreads over Europe, the place environmental poisons decimate populations of oceanic wildlife.

The novel begins from the angle of Knut, a unusual Danish linguistics pupil. By likelihood, he watches a televised panel between folks from extinct nations akin to East Germany, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union. He then sees a younger lady whose face resembles an “anime character.”

Hiruko is from “an archipelago someplace between China and Polynesia” that has fully vanished. The precise identify of Hiruko’s nation is clearly Japan. Nevertheless, Tawada makes a degree to by no means explicitly identify the nation of Hiruko’s beginning. Moderately, the readers start to grasp the smooth energy of Japan, as its popular culture and uniqueness are virtually a wholly separate entity divorced from its nation of origin.


Hiruko doesn’t communicate Danish. As an alternative, she has invented her personal made-up language, which she named “Panska.” From the phrase “pan” that means “all” and “-ska” for “Scandinavia.” Hiruko can talk with folks from any nation in northern Europe by means of her selfmade language. Albeit she seems like she’s talking backward. Knut, enamored with this enigmatic lady, describes Hiruko as “inhaling a number of grammars, melding them collectively inside her physique, then exhaling them as candy breath.” It seems the very last thing to go extinct may be romance itself.

Scattered All Over the Earth – $15.25 – New Instructions – 228 pages

Fashionable conceptions of race, faith, sexuality, and language merge collectively and grow to be practically inconceivable to differentiate as separate ideas. Hiruko movingly explains, “When you consider it, since we’re all earthlings, nobody could be an unlawful resident of earth. So why are there increasingly more unlawful aliens yearly? If issues carry on this manner, sometime the entire human race will likely be unlawful.”

Maybe, we’re not as totally different as we’ve been led to imagine. The idea of a “international tradition” and the approaching doom set on humanity by ecological disasters places a form of melancholic tint on “Panska,” because it was born out of necessity and devastation slightly than pure linguistic innovation. Knut, a person with the privilege of nonetheless having a house nation, describes Hiruko’s “selfmade language” as being like “Monet’s water lilies. The colours, shattered into items, have been stunning however painful.”

Tawada unveils one other plain reality: woven into languages are the threads of loss and ache sewn by its audio system. As increasingly more languages grow to be globalized, the very nature of speech will grow to be stained with the experiences and cultures of individuals the world over – weakening the very concept of a “native tongue.”


Value emphasizing is Margaret Mitsutani’s unbelievable translation in Scattered All Over the Earth (2022). “Panska” is synthetic, a considerably messy amalgamation of varied Scandinavian languages that have been initially transcribed in Japanese. Tawada’s work is successfully a shocking quilt of languages layered atop each other. The creator’s ardour for language even leads her to query the conception of phrases which have problematic connotations.

Tenzo, initially a Greenlander, is described as an “Eskimo” all through the story, regardless of that time period having racist and offensive implications. He explains that “individuals who think about the phrase ‘Eskimo’ racist suppose it’s sufficient to simply change it with ‘Inuit’, although strictly talking not all Eskimos are Inuit.” By means of Tenzo’s perspective, Tawada casts an uncomfortable highlight on the maybe simulated discomfort that many non-natives exhibit over the therapy of indigenous folks. Tenzo just isn’t the one character “pushed into an ethnic nook.” Everybody in Tawada’s novel experiences what it’s prefer to be exoticized. Foreignness is all only a matter of perspective.

Scattered All Over the Earth (2022) has no polished, clean-cut ending. It’s the first installment of a planned-out trilogy that goals to reply a few of Tawada’s philosophical and existential questions. Even with out sequels to hold its weight, Tawada’s newest launch is each an excellent homage to language and a completely entertaining fiction novel to let your self get misplaced inside. Nevertheless, such a journey wouldn’t be attainable with out the subtle linguistic Sherpa, Margaret Mitsutani, who guides all of it into language you may simply comply with.



Former LMU English Honors Graduate Ella Kelleher is the guide assessment editor-in-chief and a contributing workers author for Asia Media Worldwide. Her English research featured a focus in multi-ethnic literature. She is at present in South Korea serving to ‘indigenous Koreans’ with their English.

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