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  • Questioning the Border in Yoko Tawada’s Poetics of Trans-Formation: Akzentfrei (2016) and Ein Balkonplatz für flüchtige Abende (2016)

    Eriberto Russo

    Chapter from the book: Jonsson, H et al. 2021. Narratives Crossing Borders: The Dynamics of Cultural Interaction.

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    Yoko Tawada, an established author with a Japanese background, is one of the most important writers of contemporary Germany. Her personal experience as a migrant – the first and major border - has played a central role in her literary activity. Her literary production oscillates between two styles: narratives and essays, which make full use of both ordinary and surreal aspects. In other words her works start from a ritual aspect of ordinary life and create a new dimension, which can be identified as the dimension of the border. The border becomes, this way, the dialectic device, through which texts transform and translate themselves into the otherness. My paper aims to analyze the concept of border in Tawada’s poetics, with particular attention to the border as a liminal space, as it displays itself in her last works Akzentfrei (2016) and Ein Balkonplatz für flüchtige Abende (2016). In both works borders play a central role, as they transform themselves after flowing and being crossed by identitary suggestions.

    Akzentfrei is to be seen as an imaginary journey into the In-betweenness, during which, we, as readers, discover a new world made up of accents and translations, leading to the understanding of the condition of a writer, who writers in the ‘ravine of language’. Through an extraordinary desire to excavate the secrets of the words and the objects, which a writer on the threshold can encounter on his/her way, Tawada tells her reader about the way she tries to go beyond the border, which has actually turned out to be the writer herself. Ein Balkonplatz für flüchtige Abende, a poetic novel, can be understood as the synthesis of Tawada’s contact with the spaces of the borders. At the centre of the narration we find the figure of the Loreley, a siren, who loses her way and strands on the Elbe, in Hamburg. The siren and the other figures we encounter in the work do not possess fixed identities: in fact, they keep flowing through a translating otherness, which manifests itself through ordinary spaces (streets, canteens) hiding secrets and getting crossed by unfamiliar landscapes and worlds.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Russo, E. 2021. Questioning the Border in Yoko Tawada’s Poetics of Trans-Formation: Akzentfrei (2016) and Ein Balkonplatz für flüchtige Abende (2016). In: Jonsson, H et al (eds.), Narratives Crossing Borders. Stockholm: Stockholm University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16993/bbj.d

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on June 15, 2021


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