Scattered All Over the Earth

Finalist, National Book Awards 2022 for Translated Literature

book cover Yoko Tawada, Scattered All Over the Earth
ISBN 9780811229289
New Directions Publishing
Yoko Tawada

Yoko Tawada was born in Tokyo in 1960, moved to Hamburg when she was 22, and then to Berlin in 2006. She writes in both Japanese and German, and has published several books—stories, novels, poems, plays, essays—in both languages. More about this author >

author photo Margaret Mitsutani. (Photo credit: Yasushi Mitsutani)
Margaret Mitsutani

Margaret Mitsutani is a translator of Yoko Tawada and Japan’s 1994 Nobel Prize laureate Kenzaburō Ōe. More about this author >

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Translated from the Japanese 

From the publisher:

In Scattered All Over the Earth, the mind-expanding, cheerfully dystopian new novel by Yoko Tawada, the world’s climate disaster and its attendant refugee crises is viewed through the loving twin lenses of friendship and linguistic ingenuity.

Welcome to the not-too-distant future: Japan, having vanished from the face of the earth, is now remembered as “the land of sushi.” Hiruko, a former citizen and a climate refugee, has a job teaching immigrant children in Denmark with her invented language Panska (Pan-Scandinavian): “homemade language. no country to stay in. three countries I experienced. insufficient space in brain. so made new language. homemade language.”

As she searches for anyone who can still speak her mother tongue, Hiruko soon makes new friends. Her troupe travels to France and Stockholm, and in a series of mesmerizing scenes encounters an umami cooking competition, a dead whale, an ultranationalist, Kakuzo robots, and much more—each scene more vivid than the last.

With its intrepid band of companions, Scattered All Over the Earth (the first novel of a trilogy) may bring to mind Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or a surreal Wind in the Willows, but really it’s just another sui generis Yoko Tawada masterwork.

Judges Citation

Yoko Tawada’s Scattered All Over the Earth is a caper through language in its most thrilling forms. Hiruko, whose home country has been lost to rising seas, searches the world for elusive traces of the past. In the cascading voices of Hiruko and her fellow travelers—vibrant with life and ideas in Margaret Mitsutani’s deft, knowing translation—the book shakes you awake to meaning that gleefully persists even when every familiar thing is erased from the earth.


Margaret Mitsutani reads for Yoko Tawada & Monique Truong for Mitsutani at the 2022 Finalist Reading