Author Yoko Tawada ’82 wins 2018 National Book Award for ‘The Emissary’

On November 15, 2018 (November 14, 2018 EST), Yoko Tawada ’82, author and visiting professor at Waseda University, received the 2018 National Book Award, one of the most literary awards in the United States.

She won in the category of Translated Literature for “The Emissary (New Directions Publishing, April 2018).” Translated by Margaret Mitsutani, it is a dystopian novel illustrating post-Fukushima Japan in the aftermath of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

Author Yoko Tawada (left) and Professor Miho Matsunaga

Professor Miho Matsunaga of the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences congratulated Tawada, saying, “Ms. Tawada has received a number of awards in Germany and Japan, but there is great significance in her winning this prestigious National Book Award in the newly-founded category of Translated Literature. In recent years, Ms. Tawada’s works have been translated into various languages. By receiving this award, there is a possibility that such international movement of translation will be accelerated. When speaking of literature in Japanese, Haruki Murakami has been in the spotlight as a bestselling author, but I hope that this will be an opportunity for people to know that there are authors like Ms. Tawada who is completely different and realize the depth of literature in Japanese.”

Prior to this award, Tawada also received the 2018 Japan Foundation Award for her contributions in promoting mutual understanding across borders through various cultural activities in academia and the arts. She is one of the authors who have been gaining international recognition in recent years.

Every year, Tawada and Berlin-based pianist Aki Takase hold the Yoko Tawada and Aki Takase Performance & Workshop at Waseda University. It is being held this year as well on November 15 and 16 at the Ono Memorial Hall.

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