November 14, 2022 7:53 AM EST

In Scattered All Over the Earth, a finalist for a National Book Award, Yoko Tawada renders a future where Japan has disappeared. The country lives on only through its culture as remembered by the rest of the world; people recall it as “the land of sushi.” The novel, translated by Margaret Mitsutani, follows Hiruko, a stateless refugee who is perhaps one of the last Japanese people on the planet. Hiruko is looking for anyone who might also speak her native language—a quest that takes her around the world. As she encounters people from all over the globe, Tawada’s carefully built story probes the concept of homeland and the meaning of language. —Mahita Gajanan

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