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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Time Differences

Tawada Yoko

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To purchase Time Differences

Title: Time Differences
Author: Tawada Yoko
Genre: Story
Written: 2006 (Eng. 2017)
Length: 40 pages
Original in: Japanese
Availability: Time Differences - US
Time Differences - UK
Time Differences - Canada
  • Japanese title: 時差
  • Originally published in the colection 海に落とした名前 (2006)
  • Translated by Jeffrey Angles
  • With a Foreword by Stuart Dybek
  • A volume in the Strangers Press Keshiki-series

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Our Assessment:

B : nicely done

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       The three protagonists of Time Differences are displaced -- each outside their home country -- and separated by enormous distances: Mamoru is in Berlin, Manfred in New York, and Michael in Tokyo. The narrative, however, is one of continuity, shifting -- often barely noticeably -- from one locale and character to the next as it follows their actions and relates what each does at more or less the same moments (even as these are very different times of the day for the three characters).
       The three were, separately, sexually involved, and they are on each other's minds -- Manfred even tries to telephone Michael, at one point, for example -- while also inhabiting their presently very separate worlds, and the day-to-day life of these. Still, there are constant overlaps: Michael meets someone who once interviewed him and they recall that he discussed kanji (the Chinese characters used in Japanese writing) and she mentions that she has started a manga magazine, which he asks her about -- and then: "At that moment, Mamoru was also talking about kanji and manga", with his students.
       Each character goes about his daily routine, yet there's a sense of chance and coïncidence throughout, from the mundane -- what to eat -- to how conversation will go in the classroom or who they will encounter.
       The conclusion finds each in an unpleasant -- or worse -- situation whose gravity dawns on them, slowly r more suddenly, with matters out of their control and more fundamental forces taking over -- a nice little way of bringing the story to a close.
       The most interesting thing about Time Differences is the way it is told -- the way the narrative flows, the accounts of what is happening with each of the three men not so much alternating as part of one larger über-story, suggesting how in the modern world contemporary lives are both fundamentally connected even as they remain so distinctly separate(d).
       Time Differences -- a volume in the wonderful Keshiki-series from Strangers Press -- is a relatively short story for a stand-alone -- not even of novella-heft -- but it is a solid little work.

- M.A.Orthofer, 23 March 2018

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Time Differences: Reviews: Tawada Yoko: Other books by Tawada Yoko under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Tawada Yoko (多和田葉子) was born in Tokyo in 1960 and moved to Germany when she was 22. She writes in both Japanese and German.

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