The Bridgegroom Was a Dog

Yoko Tawada, Author, Margaret Mitsutani, Translator Kodansha International (JPN) $19 (144p) ISBN 978-4-7700-2307-0
In the title story of this surreal comic trilogy, which won the Akutagawa Prize, Japan's highest award for fiction, in 1993, an eccentric young schoolteacher becomes the protagonist of a fable she tells her students about a young princess who weds a dog. Strange as the teacher is (she raises eyebrows in town by telling her students to wipe themselves, on the toilet, with snotty Kleenex), her life takes a stranger turn when Taro, a lover of unnervingly canine proclivities, moves in with her. As his animalism begins to threaten her place in the community, the pair parts ways--he to the wild, she to a better life. In ""Missing Helas,"" Tawada tracks a mail-order bride's efforts to blend into a new culture. At times perceptive, the story veers into heavy-handed symbolism when this husband turns out to be another member of the animal kingdom. ""The Gotthard Railway"" rationalizes Tawada's flights of fancy by putting them in the mouth of a realistic narrator--a free-associating Japanese woman on the train through St. Gotthard, in the Swiss Alps. Although Tawada's conceits may sometimes bewilder American readers, her bizarrerie is charming and unforced: her English-language debut is authentically, if not always fruitfully, weird. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1998
Release date: 09/01/1998
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 165 pages - 978-4-7700-2940-9
Paperback - 64 pages - 978-0-8112-2037-8
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