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The Bridegroom Was a Dog

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  677 ratings  ·  87 reviews
In these three narratives, an ingenious story-teller has created a new kind of fantasy, playful yet vaguely sinister, laced with her own brand of humor, which reviewers have labeled variously as "funky," "mischievous," "weird," and "hilarious."

The author was in her early thirties when the title story won her country's highest literary award. In The Bridegroom Was a Dog, an
Paperback, 165 pages
Published August 1st 2003 by Kodansha (first published 1993)
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Average rating 3.56  · 
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Apr 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommended to Tim by: Marie-Therese
A collection of three stories by Yōko Tawada, all written in a playful style, but discussing serious topics of modern life. The title story won the Akutagawa Prize upon release, making immediate recognition for Tawada's work. So, how does the collection work as a whole?

The first story, The Bridegroom Was a Dog, focuses on a teacher named Mitsuko who tells her students a fairy tale about a woman who marries a dog. A few days later, a man named Taro arrives, and declares he will be living with her
L.S. Popovich
Only valuable as a distraction from dry Realism or for those interested in surreal imagery. If you are looking for an easy read, there are worse choices than Tawada. This small edition is curiously random, which is one of the trademarks of her style, but unlike her other books, it does not resolve into much memorable material.
Jul 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: boogers
Recommended to Mariel by: toilet paper
I have already served my punishment so so be it. What can goodreads do to me? Flag this review if you feel you have to. What do I have to lose after 166 pages of the most irritating kid kind of logic? I KNOW it is wrong and I am going to do it anyway. Is this what double jeopardy is? I'm committing the crime I was punished for!

I had better use spoiler tags just in case... I mean, I don't fear goodreads... But what if I have to read another short story collection like this one? (Or some thing abo
Justin Evans
Apr 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
NB: this is a review of the New Directions Pearl edition, which contains only the title tale.

I'm not really sure what to make of this; it's been some time since I felt that I didn't have the background or knowledge I needed to get a work of literature at all. What's up with the long, irritating run on sentences? What's up with the puerile (puellile?) butt jokes? Do we really need the long introduction about community gossip before we get to the traditional fairy tale woman-nearly-marries-dog st
Mar 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Japanese enthusiasts, Lovers of surrealism
Recommended to Amy by: Samantha!
Shelves: favorite
The Bridegroom Was a Dog was a daydream. I read it and wanted more afterwards. I didn't think it was as absurd as people made it out to be, if anything it was wildly imaginative. I've read lots of reviews by people who didn't like the book at all, claiming it lacked a 'point.' But I felt, that for such a small book, there is a strong sense of Tawada's conflicts with gender and cultural differences. It turned me on to surrealist writing again. Each story had its own personality and rhythm. While ...more
Miriam Cihodariu
Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: japan
Disturbing with the occasional touch of grotesque, but all delivered in a playful manner. Much of the humor and the appeal of the book derives from having all these disturbing things done by one character or another, but with a very nonchalant behavior, as if they couldn't understand for the life of them why anyone could be bothered by them.

What made me like the story was the subtle way of referencing old Japanese folklore, like the hints about people being possessed by animal spirits (Taro, the
This is an individual short story republished in this New Directions Pearl edition, and in many ways reads like a dark and quirky fable.

In this story we follow a small community and their fixation with the cram school teacher educating their children. The teacher tells the children stories, and fragments of one particular story make their way back to the parents. The teacher told the children a story about a princess who married a dog as a reward for him licking her rear clean. Yes, you read tha
This is the oddest little short story but I love it!
After reading a tale in a 10th-c Japanese anthology about a princess living in a remote dwelling in the mountains while "in a relationship" with her dog, I found this modern tale by Tawada while seeking other fictional treatments in Jlit about women and dogs.
Nov 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Dogs and Squids
Shelves: asian, read-2008
Yoko Tawada is good. This book of 3 short narratives is the first of her works to be translated in English. These twisted tales are funny and slightly sinister. In the title story, a ‘cram’ school teacher tells her students a story about a little princess whose hand in marriage is promised to a dog as a reward for licking her bottom clean; only to have her own life turned upside down by the sudden appearance of a dog-like man with a predilection for the same part of her anatomy. The second story ...more
Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 added it
Shelves: japanese
Having Too Much Faith in Surrealism

The problem with Tawada's fiction, in the end -- because it has startling and funny moments, and is intermittently very tight and engaging -- is that she thinks that her surrealist insights and personal associations are brilliant. Sometimes they are, but often they aren't, and they keep coming, page after page. If it didn't appear that she was so easily satisfied with the first image that came to her mind, the narratives could be much more consistently vulnerab
Nicky Neko
Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Three stories in this collection: The Bridegroom Was a Dog, Missing Heels and The Gotthard Railway.

The first story was incredible - a worthy recipient of the Akutagawa Prize. The second story was just too weird and impenetrable. The third story started off well, then lost my interest.

Her style is very funny and out there, and when it works, it really shines. I think the success of the first story lay in its intriguing plot and characters - which the next two stories lacked completely.

As a gene
Nov 05, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
Out of the three stories I read the first and third one, "The Bridegroom was a Dog" and "The Gotthard Railway." Suffice it to say it was enough to get the point. And, as seems typical of anything assigned in a classroom setting, there was no point. Oh, yeah, we now have a great excuse to talk about strange sex and Freudian cliches, but the elephant in the room is at once so massive and so invisible it's hard to grip just how big the problem is with this book.

No story.

I'm constantly amazed––bewil
Ben Loory
Apr 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
once again: japanese people are weird. i don't really know what this book was on about. it was like an haruki murakami book, only minus the feeling and mystery and tension, while being much weirder on a superficial level, and more sexually open. (well, murakami's pretty sexually open, sometimes.)

also it talked about snot a LOT in the beginning, which is a real turn-off as far as i'm concerned. who wants to read about snot? not me.

had some good moments and lines, though. but yeah... beats me wha
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Well, that was, yeah.

I'm sure it was better in the original. At least I hope so.

If you like reading about snot, sex, smells and bodily functions, go for it.

They say this is the story that launched the author into fame. Perhaps because she was pushing the tidy little envelope expected of women of her class?

sarah semark
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Odd, but not in a way that's just "weird for weird's sake." Lovely long run-on sentences that are sort of immensely readable and poetically phrased. Probably would be great to listen to the author's reading. ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult
Short stories
Oct 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who like kinky dreams.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Yoko Tawada Goes to the Dogs: A Review of The Bridegroom Was a Dog (1998)

I found this lovely and eccentric triple-braid of novellas by the celebrated Japanese prosateuse Yoko Tawada on my usual thrift store peregrinations, and knew instantly this was one to keep and not to sell.

Here is the bio the book gives for the author: "Yoko Tawada was born in Tokyo in 1960 and educated at Waseda University, and now lives in Germany. She made her debut as a writer with "Missing Hee
Gertrude & Victoria
Jan 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japanese-library
The Bridegroom Was a Dog by Tawada Yoko is a small collection of contemplative works, which are little more than fragments of strange people, places, events and dreams. Described as kafkaesque, they are disquieting.

The second piece in this book Missing Heels is a surreal story set in a foreign land. Here, people are without names and identities; their thoughts and actions seem unreal. They are antagonistic, hostile, and indifferent towards the main character. From every encounter with teacher, p
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Tawada's lucid novella "The Bridegroom Was a Dog" is a weird suburban fairytale -- what's really a quick fall through several iterations of social decorum, sexual identity and working-class ennui ends up feeling like a satisfying slice of mythic surrealism and the world's greatest love song to anilingus. Probably a great thing to read if you wanted a woman writer who tackles themes similar to Murakami, only with more eroticism and less navel-gazing. Like waking up from a bizarre sex dream you'd ...more
Daniel Simmons
Feb 05, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
George Ruch
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Odd little novella. Borrow a Japanese legend, move it into a contemporary Tokyo suburb, and apply a Kafkaesque twist.
Matthew White Ellis
Jul 26, 2020 rated it liked it
The story of a cram school teacher, Mitsuko, whose life is suddenly interrupted by a mysterious man going by the name Taro who may or may not be infected with some kind of dog spirit. This event sparks controversy in the community. Mitsuko herself, an already an unconventional teacher, is the subject of the town’s gossip who wants to know about this mysterious relationship between the cram school teacher and her odd partner.

In this short story, you will find a perfectly natural blend of styles:
Patrick Stirling
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
The writing is ... different. My book club selection was "anything by Yoko Tawada", who I had not previously heard of. The reviews warned me that her writing is fantastical; I think a better term is phantasmagoric - I finally get to use the word!
I couldn't even tell you what this short book is about, other than that a school for girls and the woman who runs it are the main characters, and the title refers to a fairy story she tells them. The writing is actually amazing, and transporting. Reminds
Istvan Zoltan
Three short and entertaining pieces by Tawada. The title giving 'The Bridegroom was a dog' is especially humorous (in an absurd/dark way). The stories are peppered with thoughtful and interesting ideas concerning Europe, culture, Germany and Japan, and living abroad as a foreigner. I found it a light and entertaining reading. Some of Tawada's essays (especially her Sprachmutter essay and the 'One is not allowed to say but there actually is no Europe') are packed with a lot more ideas and flesh o ...more
Eric Hinkle
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That was quite a trip.

Not as obsessed with anal play as the synopsis might imply (which is probably a good thing), there are a lot of layers to this short novella. It's really satisfying, but it's hard to say why, exactly.

I'll have to read another of her books. I made it halfway through Memoirs of a Polar Bear and liked it well enough but didn't feel the urge to finish it. She's a bit of an oddball, and that could work in her favor or not. Regardless, she has an extremely unique mind and I'm h
Robert Gebhardt

The first story, "The Bridegroom was a dog", made no sense to me. The second story "Missing heels" just seemed like one long dream, while the last one, "The Gotthard Railway", was my favorite since it talked about places I know and love.

Just like with "Memoirs of a Polar Bear", I'd give these somewhere between 1 and 5 stars. Rounding up to 4 stars this time because she mentioned Ticino and the Gotthard t
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fever dream, a fable come to life, a hallucination? I guess this novella is what you think it is. Tawada's writing and use of language creates an almost visual experience. Light & darkness, day & night, modernity & tradition all blend together then separate leaving the reader to ponder what is real? If I sound vague, it is because the story is full of real imaginings and imagined realities. Wow! I love it when I know that I will interpret & re-interpret a tale for quite a while to come! ...more
Prefaced by Wim Wenders. Way cool. Only if you've ever lived in a foreign country, having to speak a language that isn't your own and learn to to adapt to life that is as alien to a sea creature's first foray onto land, only then, will you be able to appreciate the dark humour of these three short stories about otherness. ...more
May 25, 2020 rated it liked it
More revolting than delightful, but nonetheless enthralling mix of life’s real weirdos brushing shoulders with fable’s flights into the absurd. More bombastic than what I’ve come to expect for Japanese literature and sure enough caused enough of a splash to win their Pulitzer equivalent: the Akutagawa prize.
It was an odd story. Read it if you want to just breeze through something but if you don't pick this up, you are not gonna miss out on anything either.
That being said, it was a fun mixture of magical realism, sexuality and of course the way society responds to someone else's affair. I enjoyed reading it. But if you're not into absurd things, you'll most likely not enjoy it.
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Yōko Tawada (多和田葉子 Tawada Yōko, born March 23, 1960) is a Japanese writer currently living in Berlin, Germany. She writes in both Japanese and German.

Tawada was born in Tokyo, received her undergraduate education at Waseda University in 1982 with a major in Russian literature, then studied at Hamburg University where she received a master's degree in contemporary German literature. She received he

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