This collection draws from scholars across different languages to address and assess the scholarly achievements of Tawada Yōko. Yōko, born in Japan (1960) and based in Germany, writes and presents in both German and Japanese. The contributors of this volume recognize her as one of the most important contemporary international writers. Her published books alone number more than fifty volumes, with roughly the same number in German and Japanese.
Tawada’s writing unfolds at the intersections of borders, whether of language, identity, nationality, or gender. Her characters are all travelers of some sort, often foreigners and outsiders, caught in surreal in-between spaces, such as between language and culture, or between species, subjectivities, and identities. Sometimes they exist in the spaces between gendered and national identities; sometimes they are found caught between reality and the surreal, perhaps madness. Tawada has been one of the most prescient and provocative thinkers on the complexities of travelling and living in the contemporary world, and thus has always been obsessed with passports and trouble at borders.
This current volume was conceived to augment the first edited volume of Tawada’s work, Yōko Tawada: Voices from Everywhere, which appeared from Lexington Books in 2007. That volume represented the first extensive English language coverage of Tawada’s writing. In the meantime, there is increased scholarly interest in Tawada’s artistic activity, and it is time for more sustained critical examinations of her output. This collection gathers and analyzes essays that approach the complex international themes found in many of Tawada’s works.