Memoirs of a Polar Bear

Yoko Tawada

Published: 2 November 2017
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 256 pages
ISBN: 9781846276323

Other Editions

Trade Paperback

Image of

Published: 2 March 2017
Trade Paperback, Demy HB
138x216mm, 256 pages
ISBN: 9781846276316

Ebook Available


Three bears.

The first, a diligent memoirist whose unlikely success forces her to flee Soviet Russia.

The second, her daughter, a skilled dancer in an East Berlin circus.

The third, Knut, a baby bear born and raised in Berlin Zoo at the beginning of the 21st century.

Here, then, is the enchanting story of three extraordinary bears, brought to life by one of Japan's most inventive and dazzling novelists.

About the author


A surreal exploration of the bear within us... A work that plays with the fantastical and allegorical ... Tawada mine[s] the rich historical seam as [she] seeks to understand the bears in our mind’ Tim Flannery



Enchanting... deliciously whimsical and playful... it's through the eyes of [Tawada's] polar bears that we see humanity most clearlyLucy Scholes

Full of wonder and curiosityTodd Shimoda

Hums with beautiful strangeness

Magnificent... A heartfelt read ****

Philosophical, political and often profound... rich in physical sensation and whimsyEileen Battersby

Stunning... Inventive, well observed, peculiar and thought-provoking’ Daniel Hahn

Surreal and beguiling... fizzing with ideas... funny and outrageous... Memoirs of a Polar Bear dazzles. The final paragraph, swirling with memory and snow evokes the calm gravity of Joyce's ending to The DeadLee Langley

Tawada brings her fine-nosed, soft-furred beasts to life

‘Disconcerting and exhilaratingly strange. With a deft wave of her literary wand, Tawada dissolves the frontier between humans and animals, disorientating us so that we can be more properly oriented towards ourselves’ Charles Foster

‘In chronicling the lives of three generations of uniquely talented polar bears, the fantastically gifted Yoko Tawada has created an unforgettable meditation on celebrity, art, incarceration, and the nature of consciousness. Tawada is, far and away, one of my favourite writers, working today - thrilling, discomfiting, uncannily beautiful, like no one you have ever read before. Memoirs of a Polar Bear is Tawada at her best: humanity, as seen through the eyes of these bears, has never looks quite so stirringly strange.’ Laura van den Berg, author

‘Playful and fascinating... Sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, sometimes alienating, but always deeply intimate’ Dominic O'Key

Mind Unit - websites, content management and email marketing for the arts