Yōko Tawada’s Post-Fukushima Imaginaries

23 June 2021

Yōko Tawada’s Post-Fukushima Imaginaries

Old Pine Tree and White Phoenix. Part of the series Dōshoku sai-e, Ito Jakuchu, Edo era; Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

In the West, no creative writer has been made more visible in relation to the Fukushima disaster than Yōko Tawada. In her imaginaries, the crisis of nuclear contamination, like radiation itself, is obfuscated, yet ubiquitous. Accordingly, especially in her short story “The Island of Eternal Life” and her novel The Emissary, Tawada emphasizes ontological and phenomenological chaos, forcing readers to confront the devastations, physical and philosophical, of nuclear disaster. But chaos is also indeterminate, leaving the future unknowable; Tawada’s imaginaries thus suggest that even in an irradiated world, experience, though changed, will continue—and that, as a result, nuclearity may yet be resisted.

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