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Magnificent Strangeness: An Evening with Yoko Tawada and Rivka Galchen

Friday, February 27, 2015, 6:30 p.m.

Deutsches Haus at NYU

Deutsches Haus at NYU presents a reading by Yoko Tawada, currently the DAAD Distinguished Chair in Contemporary Poetics in NYU’s Department of German, followed by a conversation between Yoko Tawada and the Canadian-American writer Rivka Galchen, introduced by Alys George, Assistant Professor at the Department of German at NYU. Yoko Tawada will read from Fremde aus der Dose in German, and from her poetry in English translation. In their conversation, Tawada and Galchen will focus on writing between languages and cultures, the perceptions, limitations and possibilities of language, and finally Tawada's "magnificent strangeness", as Galchen recently wrote in an article for The New Yorker.

Yoko Tawada was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1960, and first traveled to Germany at the age of 19. Three years later she established permanent residency in Hamburg. Written originally in Japanese, a collection of Tawada’s stories and poetry was translated into German and made an appearance soon after in 1987 under the title Nur da wo du bist da ist nichts (Only there where you are there is nothing). Since then, Tawada has published numerous stories, poetry, essays, plays both in Japanese and in German, has established a celebrated career as a contemporary author, and is widely noted for her intercultural style of writing for which she has experienced an exceptional amount of attention.

Tawada has appeared in over 900 different readings in several countries since 1987. Among her publications are her novella Inu mukoiri (The Bridegroom Was a Dog, 1991; translated 1998), which was awarded the Akutagawa Prize in 1993, and Yogisha no yako ressha (Suspects on the Night Train), a series of linked stories, which also received the Tanizaki Junichiro Prize in 2003.

In addition to her many Japanese literary awards, Tawada is the recipient of numerous prestigious German literary awards, including the Advancement in Literature Prize (1990), the Lessing Prize (1993), the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize (1996), and the Goethe Medal (2005). She has also been a writer in residence at several universities across the U.S., including Washington University (2007), Stanford University (2008), and Cornell University (2008).

Yoko Tawada relocated to Berlin, Germany in 2006 and resides there as a freelance writer.

Rivka Galchen was born in Toronto but grew up largely in Oklahoma, where her father was a professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma and her mother, a computer programmer at the National Severe Storms Laboratory.

Her writing, both fiction and nonfiction, has been published in The New Yorker, Harper's, the New York Times, and elsewhere. Her debut novel, Atmospheric Disturbances (2008) was a finalist for the Mercantile Library's John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize, the Canadian Writers' Trust's 2008 Fiction Prize, and Canada's Governor General's Award, and was awarded the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing.  Galchen's short-story collection, American Innovations, was published in 2014 and has been longlisted for the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Galchen lives in New York, where she teaches writing at Columbia University and is a Contributing Editor at Harper's.

Alys George is Assistant Professor in the Department of German at New York University, where she has taught nineteenth- through twenty-first-century German-language literature, culture, and film at NYU since 2011.

Events at Deutsches Haus are free. Advance registration is required. If you would like to attend this event, please send an email to As space at Deutsches Haus is limited, please arrive ten minutes prior to the event to ensure you get a good seat. Thank you!

Magnificent Strangeness: An Evening with Yoko Tawada and Rivka Galchen
is a DAAD-sponsored event.