Memoirs of a Polar Bear

Memoirs of a Polar Bear Memoirs of a Polar Bear stars three generations of talented writers and performers who happen to be polar bears Three generations grandmother mother son of polar bears are famous as both circus perf

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  • Title: Memoirs of a Polar Bear
  • Author: Yōko Tawada Susan Bernofsky
  • ISBN: 9780811225786
  • Page: 252
  • Format: Paperback
  • Memoirs of a Polar Bear stars three generations of talented writers and performers who happen to be polar bears.Three generations grandmother, mother, son of polar bears are famous as both circus performers and writers in East Germany they are polar bears who move in human society, stars of the ring and of the literary world In chapter one, the grandmother matriarch inMemoirs of a Polar Bear stars three generations of talented writers and performers who happen to be polar bears.Three generations grandmother, mother, son of polar bears are famous as both circus performers and writers in East Germany they are polar bears who move in human society, stars of the ring and of the literary world In chapter one, the grandmother matriarch in the Soviet Union accidentally writes a bestselling autobiography In chapter two, Tosca, her daughter born in Canada, where her mother had emigrated moves to the DDR and takes a job in the circus Her son the last of their line is Knut, born in chapter three in a Leipzig zoo but raised by a human keeper in relatively happy circumstances in the Berlin zoo, until his keeper, Matthias, is taken awayHappy or sad, each bear writes a story, enjoying both celebrity and the intimacy of being alone with my pen.

    One thought on “Memoirs of a Polar Bear”

    1. Polar bears, Cold War era East German setting, beautiful language. Ticks all the boxes. Favourite thing was how a lot of the time it was basically a normal story except the main characters happened to be polar bears -- which also seemed to be inconsequential information most of the time. It was like they'd have to occasionally be like "well it's quite warm in Germany because I'm a polar bear" and the other characters would be all "huh, life is confounding".

    2. Such a strange and peculiar book. I loved Part 1 best of all, it read like an extended metaphor and political commentary on humanity. Part 2 was like some strange fever dream, with some wonderfully striking passages, but Part 3 was just sad. Overall though, I enjoyed this book. Polar bear narrators for the win!

    3. Gabriel García Márquez once wrote about the publication of his first story. He left it with the receptionist at El Espectador, too abashed to meet directly with the editor Eduardo Zalamea. Two weeks later he chanced to discover his story featured prominently in the publication. Elated, he desperately searched in vain for five centavos in order to purchase a copy. His dejection was alleviated only by the last minute acquisition of a cast-off copy of El Espectador begged from a stranger who was [...]

    4. I suppose this contains a lot of veiled commentary. Take real people and make them polar bears or take polar bears and give them inconsistent human abilities for some reason. This was very illogical and very contradictory. I try to rationalize everything I read, so magical realism does not work so well for me.Really it's how contradictory the story could be that left me scratching my head. What's the use of establishing a fact like "This polar bear can talk" then wiping it to say "it can't commu [...]

    5. Review at The Literary Sisters.Yoko Tawada is a Japanese author who, in her early twenties, moved to Germany in order to study and has been living there since. A rather prolific author, Tawada writes in both German and Japanese and her works are steadily becoming more and more known worldwide. As a Japanese woman living in Europe, the perspective she offers through her writing is truly unique and very fascinating, as it perfectly captures the feelings of expats without becoming overly dramatic.M [...]

    6. Mesmerizing! Tawada's surrealistic novel explores human rights and animal rights, and what defines being human or an animal toward an understanding of our interconnected relationship as inhabitants of this planet.

    7. I try to be fair in my reviews but sometimes I can't find a single nice thing to say about a book. The story was so unclear that all I could focus on was how confused I am.At first I thought it was just hard to understand because you're suddenly immersed in the world of a polar bear. The further I got into the book, I realized that no, the story contradicts itself over and over. The grandmother's (I don't even remember her name) story was centered around her experiences as a polar bear writing h [...]

    8. Power though the few "what the hell is going on" moments. It took me a while to catch up with the story, but once you're through the looking glass, it is magical.

    9. I’m afraid I didn’t really get on with this book. That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy reading it at times. I am not really sure what to say about it, to be honest!

    10. A narrative that traces three generations of biographer Polar Bears is a great premise for a book—a playful and somewhat absurdist setup that allows for all sorts of inventive explorations of Otherness and migration. Cleverly, however, Tawada doesn't overly commit herself to the metaphor and/or turn the book into a total 1 to 1 allegory, which allows the story to range a bit further afield than one might otherwise expect and also to dip into other themes: motherhood, maternal instinct, and mat [...]

    11. Trying to categorize, or even fully understand, MEMOIRS OF A POLAR BEAR is an exercise in frustration and futility. On the surface (and on the back cover) it is advertised as the fictional memoirs of three generations in a family of polar bears. However, what is really going on is far stranger, more complex, and more muddled than I ever anticipated. Despite the straightforwardness of the premise - fictional memoirs of polar bears - I found the actual story very difficult to make sense of. It is [...]

    12. Ack, I wasn't supposed to add books to this shelf! But I won this as a prize for the winter readathon at my library, and it does look interesting enough to read, so ok. Read at the most superficial level, the blurb reminds me of the picturebook stories about Larry, Irving, and Muktuk by Daniel Pinkwater. The cover reminds me very superficially of The Night Circus. But of course I'll try to read it for its own merits, whenever I get around to it.

    13. A wonderfully written book about 3 polar bears and their lives. If you don't like magic realism or a lack of logic will bother you, stay away. Really though, it's a book about writing and talking polar bears, so I'm not sure why you would expect anything else! I appreciated that it was extremely original and perhaps even a little challenging. A very satisfying reading experience that was at times funny, touching, and sad.

    14. The fun thing about Memoirs of a Polar Bear is that it includes 2 real-life polar bears: Tosca and Knut. Keep that in mind when you read the story (I think it's a great tie-in to reality). 3 stars because I often felt a disconnect and found myself quickly reading just to get finished. But the prose gets a 5 star rating from me. Tawada is a stunning writer and uses language in ways that I have never seen before. Her prose is lush and you can just fall deeply into it. Also props to the translator. [...]

    15. Höchst skurril. Ein bisschen in der Tradition von Gregor von Rezzori oder sogar Irmtraud Morgner: Tierwesen bevölkern die Welt und leben und handeln genau wie ein Mensch an ihrer Stelle. Ich gestehe, ich fand die Sprache zu distanziert und die Geschichte zu wenig interessant, um es bis zum Ende zu lesen. Bin ca. bis zur Hälfte gekommen und habe es jetzt weggelegt.

    16. Fantastic, particularly Chapters One and Three. Brilliant translation, as always, by Susan Bernofsky. Adored this book.

    17. I selected this book because reviews indicated it was unusual. People seemed to either love or hate it. I really liked it, but found it a bit unevenly written. The narrative is incredibly moving and thought provoking. I'm not entirely sure how to label this novel-maybe magical realism? The bears in all three sections do things like write, read, and talk to other people and animals. The language and words within the writing are exquisite, some of the most lyrically poetic prose I have read. It's [...]

    18. Bei "Memoirs of a Polar Bear" handelt es sich eigentlich um die Memoiren dreier Eisbären – Grossmutter, Mutter und Sohn, wobei es sich beim Sohn um den Eisbären Knut aus dem Berliner Zoo handelt. Im Buch – eher ein Märchen – leben, denken und handeln die Tiere wie Menschen, arbeiten, lesen Zeitung und reisen. Und können dennoch nicht frei entscheiden.Das Ganze kann man nun als Gesellschaftskritik lesen, aber irgendwie bleibt die Sprache distanziert und alles ist sehr skurril. Für mich [...]

    19. I felt pretty meh on this book until the last section – Knut's story. It's a heavily allegorical and metaphorical novel about exploitation, politics, and the complexity of disenfranchisement, but I had a hard time appreciating the characters until Knut. Looking forward to chatting about this one at book club!

    20. I don't know how I feel about this book. It confused me and saddened me, but it was well written and I finished it because I needed to know how it would end. I loved the characters, the bears and the people/animals around them. The blurring of reality and fantasy, intrigued me and confounded me. I wanted it to be true. It also showed how conflicting human emotions can be. I found out only after I finished the book, that this is a "memoir". Knut was a real bear. You can look it up and see what ha [...]

    21. It's not Tawada at her absolute best, but it has passages of that really fresh, exciting language that makes her writing so interesting.

    22. I might downgrade this to four stars at come point, because I did actually stall in the middle for a while, but overall, this is everything I wanted The Night Circus to be, but wasn't. Also out The Vegetarian'ed The Vegetarian. Love love love. Followed up the last section with watching Knut videos and crying. PMS is great.

    23. November 15, 2017 Update"Memoirs of a Polar Bear" announced as the winner of the inaugural Warwick Prize for Women in Translation 2017. Read more at warwick/fac/cross_fac/wIce, Ice, Baby"Memoirs of a Polar Bear" is the 2016 English translation of Tawada's 2014 German language version Etüden im Schnee (Studies in the Snow) of her original 2011 Japanese language novel 雪の練習生 Yuki No Renshūsei(Trainee in Snow). No details are provided here, but as Tawada writes in both Japanese and Germ [...]

    24. I was immediately so curious when this book started showing up on recommendation lists. Described as a strange magical tale of three celebrity polar bears, in translation by a Japanese-German author - it was impossible that I could resist for long.In the first part, an unnamed polar bear, a circus performer turned memoirist, becomes (unwillingly) a symbol for those opposed to the Soviet regime. In the second, her daughter, Tosca, is recruited from her career in the theater by an animal trainer t [...]

    25. "Yoko Tawada fills the audience with expectations and then fulfills them in unexpected ways. The atmosphere is curated with precise details, yet the end result is vague and open-ended. These contradictions highlight Tawada’s skill at manipulating language to seem that she is revealing more than she is. And, like any good presentation, it leaves the reader wishing there was more." - Jacky TidemanThis book was reviewed in the November/December 2016 issue of World Literature Today magazine. Read [...]

    26. Memoirs of a Polar Bear is a hilarious and beautifully written/translated surreal novel. It's not a light read. The humor is pretty dark, and there's a lot in the book to ponder about human self-importance, language, performance, how people define "other," and where us/them divisions take us. If the concept of three generations of domesticated polar bears contemplating these ideas in their memoirs is off-putting to you, this probably won't be your thing, but, geez, I loved this book. It's subver [...]

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