My review of Yoko Tawada’s dystopic delight, The Emissary, a.k.a., The Last Children of Tokyo.
I have seen the future and it’s murder — Leonard Cohen, “The Future”
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Death walks into a bar, wielding a scythe, which he intends to use in shaving God’s face. Death, in his wanderings, has been hearing rumors about the wooly burning bush that covers God’s face like topographical phenomena, and he has made it his self-directed duty and obligation to give God a clean shave. The thing is, Death doesn’t find God in the bar, so he begins using his scythe on all the people he encounters in the bar, and then continues his bloody shave-fest out in the real world, as he continues searching for God’s hairy, burning beast of a face. In the end, Death is a misguided barber, and God an absentee with bigtime street cred. To dance the razor’s edge between vaudeville and nightmare requires a certain sense of marvel and precision, a certain joie de vivre to keep one company while suspended over an abyss, and this is the sensibility that Yoko Tawada exacts with finesse and fluency in her satirical timebomb, The Emissary.
Originally from Brooklyn, NY, writer, poet, spoken word performer, and playwright, John Biscello now lives in Taos, New Mexico. He is the author of three novels: Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale, Raking the Dust, and Nocturne Variations, and a collection of stories, Freeze Tag.
His fiction and poetry has appeared in: Art Times, nthposition, The Wanderlust Review, Ophelia Street, Caper, Polyphony, Dilate, Militant Roger, Chokecherries, Farmhouse, BENT, The 555 Collective, Instigator, Brass Sopaipilla, The Iconoclast, Adobe Walls, Kansas City Voices, and the Tishman Review. His blog--Notes of an Urban Stray--can be read at johnbiscello.blogspot.com. Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale was named Underground Book Reviews 2014 Book of the Year.