Japanese Author – Yoko Tawada

Yoko Tawada, the Japanese writer, was born on March 23rd 1960 in Nakano, Tokyo. She has written novels in Japanese and German. Now she resides in Berlin.


Yoko Tawada born in Tokyo, attended Tokyo Metropolitan Tachikawa High School. Her father was a book seller and a translator. When she was 19, she wanted to visit Germany and she took the Trans-Siberian Railway. She graduated in Russian Literature from Waseda University in 1982. After graduation she moved to Hamburg where she helped her father’s friend in a book distribution trade. She then joined the Hamburg University in 1990 to take her masters in German literature. She was awarded her doctorate from University of Zurich in German Literature.Tawada. began writing in 1987 and her debut was in poetry. It was a collection of poems titled ‘Nothing Only Where You Are’. The poems were in Japanese and German. She started to write novels in 1991. She had been writing novels in Japanese and she took to the bi-lingual approach in 2004, an arduous task of writing two manuscripts for the same story. Many of her books have been translated into English putting her on the global platform. Tawada has received several awards from the Japanese literary circle the most prestigious being Akutagawa Prize in 2012. She won the Goethe Medal from Goethe-Institut for commendable contributions to German culture by a non-German in 2005.


The term ‘exophany’ meaning to write in a language which is not one’s own mother tongue, was adopted and made known by Tawada. She had the ability to write novels that were abstract. It seemed distant yet relatable to the modern world. Her works were about travels; travels between countries, travels between cultures; between waking state and dreams; between before and after a calamity;between emotions and thoughts. Her trilogy on the relationship between polar bears and humans shot her to fame. The New York Times has said this about Tawada’s work – “Tawada’s stories agitate the mind like songs half-remembered or treasure boxes whose keys are locked within”.

Popular works by the author

Some of the popular works of YokoTawada are The Emissary, Memoirs of Polar Bear, The Bridegroom Was a Dog, The Naked Eye, Facing The Bridge, Where Europe Begins, Three Streets.

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