Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada

Memoirs of a Polar Bear

Yoko Tawada

This is a book to take your time over and let yourself be consumed by the stories of three generations of polar bears, each of them living side by side with their human counterparts, fully co-existing in civilian life. The tale begins with the grandmother's experiences in the Soviet Union and as it evolves you'll become increasingly beguiled by its strange beauty, enhanced by a wonderful translation.


I became a government employee and rode around on my bicycle all day long. After the first month, you could see the muscles on my thighs and calves. I could ride faster and thus saved time and no longer felt I had to rush, so now and then I would practice bicycle acrobatics in a park or even right on the street. 

Once I tried to do a headstand on the bicycle. 'You need a special bicycle for that, a custom-built model,' a passerby said. I wanted to engage him in conversation, but he was already gone. I began to sense on my skin the presence of spectators. When I had an audience of even a single person, it was no longer a paranoid delusion, it was a proper rehearsal. And if a rehearsal was possible, there might also - someday - be a premiere. 

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