Fall of Language in the Age of English
Winner of the Kobayashi Hideo Award, this best-selling book by one of Japan's most ambitious contemporary fiction writers lays bare the struggle to retain the brilliance of one's own language in an age of English dominance. Born in Tokyo but also raised and educated in the United States, Minae Mizumura acknowledges the value of a universal language in the pursuit of knowledge, yet also appreciates the different ways of seeing offered by the work of multiple tongues. She warns against losing this precious diversity.
Universal languages have always played a pivotal role in advancing human societies, Mizumura shows, but in the globalized world of the Internet, English is fast becoming the sole common language of the human race. The process is unstoppable, and striving for total language equality is delusional -- except when a particular knowledge is at stake, gained through writings in a specific language. Mizumura calls these writings "texts" and their ultimate form "literature." Only through literature, and more fundamentally through the various languages that give birth to a variety of literatures, can we nurture and enrich humanity. Incorporating her own experiences as a writer and a lover of language, and embedding a parallel history of Japanese, Mizumura offers an intimate look at the phenomenona of individual and national expression.