Book Review: Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yōko Tawada

Memoirs of a Polar BearMemoirs of a Polar Bear by Yōko Tawada
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Memoirs of a Polar Bear travels to depths of weirdness that few books ever do, but it still manages to touch something primal and moving. Tawada’s prose is a whimsical dance that cartwheels from social commentary to absurdist humor to magical realism and probably eighteen other places that I missed along the way as I was puzzling over the blurred narrative boundaries that travel from bear brain to human soul, sometimes within the same creature, sometimes between two creatures of the same mind. Tawada’s message lands somewhere in the realm of commenting on our desire as humans to perform our lives for others, so as to have something to write down in the story of our lives. It also addresses the natural and unnatural bonds between humanity and animal kind. But it also includes things like a bear hallucinating the mentoring ghost of Michael Jackson in a broken computer monitor, so… either this book is totally brilliant, or Tawada just got away with writing whatever came into her brain and calling it a novel. Take it as you will.

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