With unlikely humor and a taste for the absurd, Scattered All Over the Earth shatters the edifice of “national language” and reassembles its shards into the figure of Hiruko, that alternative Odysseus who longs for the lost homeland yet crosses ethnic and linguistic boundaries as brilliantly and seamlessly as she walks – “without lifting her feet, sliding along sideways as if she had no weight at all.” If, as one narrator thinks, “people are defined by the ‘place’ where they end up,” then Tawada invites us to be defined by all the places and spaces in-between.
– Panagiota Stoltidou on Yoko Tawada
There’s a curious extra-textual layer to “Style,” which is that I started writing it when I was living in the literary wilderness, so to speak. No published fiction to my name—no guide, no map to show me the way out of that place. The story came from a bafflement about who I was as a writer, what it meant to be a writer. By the time I was finishing the story, I hadn’t necessarily landed on a solution to those quandaries, but I had gotten enough approval professionally to have a useful distance from that young-writer distress—to see how the story at heart is sort of a satire of our need to have a self (in the literary world, in the world at large) and how outer recognition does nothing to settle the core angst we’re all trudging through.
– Corey Sobel
The strength of Oyler’s writing comes primarily from her apt observations. Like a novelist of manners, she is highly attuned to the different ways people perform in social situations, both online and offline. When there is comedy in this novel, it is observational. Perhaps due to her background as a critic and culture writer, her prose lends itself to aphorism. There is a satisfying flash of recognition in reading Oyler’s narrator describe a specific emotion, personality type, behavior, or way of interacting online that is familiar to us but seldom described.
– Sofia Montrone on Lauren Oyler