Japan, after suffering from a massive irreparable disaster, cuts itself off from the world. Children are so weak they can barely stand or walk: the only people with any get-go are the elderly. Mumei lives with his grandfather Yoshiro, who worries about him constantly. They carry on a day-to-day routine in what could be viewed as a post-Fukushima time, with all the children born ancient--frail and gray-haired, yet incredibly compassionate and wise. Mumei may be enfeebled and feverish, but he is a beacon of hope, full of wit and free of self-pity and pessimism. Yoshiro concentrates on nourishing Mumei, a strangely wonderful boy who offers "the beauty of the time that is yet to come."
A delightful, irrepressibly funny book, The Emissary is filled with light. Yoko Tawada, deftly turning inside-out "the curse," defies gravity and creates a playful joyous novel out of a dystopian one, with a legerdemain uniquely her own.
**Mariko's Staff Pick**
"I love this book so much that explaining why is agonizingly impossible. I could just say it's utterly delightful, maybe? and full of hope... Surprisingly so, because the future that Tawada envisions is bleak. Maybe it's the characters I fell in love with. Or how the words dance. Thanks to the translator, Margaret Mitsutani, there's none of the awkward-ness that sometimes haunts translated fiction. She nailed it this time!"