Surrealistic distortions of the phenomena of cultural displacement and alienation dominate this elegant new collection of stories by the Japanese author of The Bridegroom Was a Dog
(1998). Tawada, who writes both in her native language and in German (and has won literary prizes in both Japan and Germany), concentrates on the delusive nature of solitariness as felt by a woman interpreter in Germany possessed by the ghost of a suicide (in "The Bath"), and another woman (in "A Guest") whose visit to her "ear doctor" initiates a series of bizarre adventures during which she effectively disappears into her own imaginings. The similarities of Tawada's dreamlike fables to Borges's elusive "ficciones" is even more pronounced in the compound title story: here, ordinary objects (like earrings) and experiences (e.g., looking in mirrors, learning a new language) are explored with a scrupulous intensity that subtly reveals their inherent illogic and mystery.
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