Review: The Emissary by Yoko Tawada

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The Emissary by Yoko Tawada, trans. by Margaret Mitsutani (New Directions 2018)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

It had been my intention all along to review Yoko Tawada’s most recently translated novel The Emissary this week, and the announcement that Tawada was the recipient of the first award for translated literature since the National Book Award became the National Book Award in the early 1980s only solidified my thrill at getting the chance to write about this novel. Though all the books selected this year are exciting – I am particularly interested in finally reading Sigrid Nunez’s The Friend – I am particularly happy to see this nod to translated books in American literature. Compared to most countries America’s publication of translated works is nominal, and I respect and appreciate the National Book Award in their effort to encourage publishers to look internationally for new voices. Continue reading

Review: Plastic: An Autobiography by Allison Cobb

cobbepcoverPlastic: An Autobiography by Allison Cobb (Essay Press, 2015)

Reviewed by Thomas Chisholm

Allison Cobb isn’t interested in delivering epiphanies to readers. She’s interested in literature that opens a mystery and a sense of wonder, and offers a container for others to experience that opening. Plastic: An Autobiography, embodies that mysterious and wonderful opening. It was published as a free digital download by Essay Press in September 2015. The book is a part of their “EP Series,” (as in extended play) where authors are given extended space and time to develop book-length projects. At the time of publication, Plastic: An Autobiography comprised of half the material Allison Cobb had written at that point. Continue reading

STICKS: The Body Toxic by Susanne Antonetta

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Body Toxic by Susanne Antonetta (Counterpoint Press, 2002)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

This review is part of our special issue on books from and of rural America. For more on this theme, check out the issue here.

“We are the Roof Dwellers, the People Who Speak in Darkness; we’re also the DDT People, the Drink-Cadmium People, the Breathing Isotope People.” (137)

How do we think about our bodies? As moving systems of bone and muscle? As vessels to hold our brains in, or a shell to decorate and present to the world? In an article about politics and our fears about the fragile positioning of our own bodies, philosopher and bioethicist Joel Michael Reynolds writes: “… here’s the catch. We aren’t trapped in our bodies. We are our bodies, as philosophers from Frantz Fanon to Simone Beauvoir have argued. These changing, leaky bodies afford us opportunity and choice. If static or permanent, they’d be less bodies and more stones or gods. To be sure, bodies marked by racism, sexism, cisgenderism, classism, and ableism get trapped.” Continue reading