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Enter a Yoko Tawada book and abandon the known universe.

Consider her wondrously strange subject matter: the magical-realistic story of three generations of writing polar bears who interact with human society as superstars of both literature and the circus (“Memoirs of a Polar Bear”); a futuristic, post-apocalyptic Japan where children are born ancient, both frail and wise (“The Last Children of Tokyo”); or a global journey of sexual and political awakening for a young Vietnamese high school student who finds herself abducted into West Germany before she jumps a train to Paris and eventually becomes both captivated and liberated by the movies of French actress Catherine Deneuve.

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