Feed on

One element of craft that I was very impressed by in this book is the pacing. Right from the beginning, I had so many questions about the world Yoko Tawada has placed us in. What has happened to the planet? Why are the children crippled, and where are their parents? Why is Japan so isolated from the rest of the world, and are other countries the same way?
Tawada never answered all of my questions, but I was very appreciative of the way she took her time revealing each crumb of information. Pretty much as soon as it was mentioned that Mumei is Yoshiro’s great-grandson, I wanted to know about Mumei’s parents. Instead of laying out all of the information in an expository fashion, Tawada waited until about halfway through the novel to even begin to mention Mumei’s parents. We start getting little bits of information about Yoshiro’s family and relationships earlier on, but nothing is revealed all at once.

Yoshiro’s daughter, Amana, is one of the first family members we hear about, but we are only given brief glimpses of her.  Yoshiro gives us tiny snapshots of memories, such as Amana eating whole boxes of cookies at once (36), or immigrating to Okinawa with her husband (48).  Other family members take shape in this method, as well, such as Yoshiro’s wife and Amana’s son.  We slowly learn more details about them, and Tomo (Mumei’s father and Amana’s son) is the character whose backstory we learn most extensively.

Tawada’s patience in her revealing of details is quite admirable.  It’s easy to be tempted to give too much background in the beginning of a story, but Tawada never gives away any more than she absolutely has to.  I was full of questions about the characters and their circumstances for at least the first half of the book, but it was those burning questions that made me want to keep reading.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.