Yoko Tawada

2019

Yoko Tawada is born and raised in Tokyo where she studied Russian literature. She moved to Hambourg in her twenties and there she graduated with a master’s degree in contemporary German literature in 1990. Ten years later she received a doctorate in German literature from the University of Zurich. In 2006 she moved to Berlin where she lives today, writing poetry, short stories, novels, plays and essays - in both German and Japanese.

1993 brought her first real recognition outside Japan when she won the Lessing Prize and five years later her collection of stories, Inu muko iri, was translated into English by Margaret Mitsutani who has since translated many of her works. Tawada has received numerous awards and recognitions for her writing from all over the world.

In 2011 Tawada wrote three interlocking stories about three generations of polar bears and their dealings with men. The stories were inspired by the famous polar cub Knud, born and raised in captivity in Berlin Zoological Garden, where he died only four years old. Tawada wrote in Japanese and German and the book was published to great acclaim in both countries under the names Yuki no renshusei and Etüden im Schnee. In 2016 they were published in English as The Memoirs of a Polar Bear.