Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Buy Used
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Acceptable
Comment: Unbeatable customer service, and we usually ship the same or next day. Over one million satisfied customers!
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Translator Hardcover – March 5, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$6.51 $0.01

The Daughter of Union County
To save his heritage, he hides his daughter’s true identity—but he can’t protect her forever. Learn More
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

John Crowley's The Translator is a novel with a time bomb ticking over its head. It takes place during the dark days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, as an American coed develops a complicated relationship with an exiled Russian poet who is her college professor, poetic collaborator, and perhaps lover. Innokenti Falin is a man of many secrets--but then, so is Christa Malone. Growing up, her father spoke only vaguely about his work with the government and computers; her Green Beret brother died under mysterious circumstances in Southeast Asia; and Christa herself has a few things in her past that she'd rather not contemplate.

In their power to evoke the physical pleasures of poetry, the scenes in which Falin and Malone work together evoke A.S. Byatt's Possession, another gripping novel about language and the life of the mind. Improbably, Crowley even makes the act of translation sexy:

She thought, long after, that she had not then ever explored a lover's body, learned its folds and articulations, muscle under skin, bone under muscle, but that this was really most like that: this slow probing and working in his language, taking it in or taking hold of it; his words, his life, in her heart, in her mouth too.
The novel's principal shortcoming is that it can't quite make up its mind whether it's a cloak-and-dagger cold war novel or a less realistic fable about love, loss, and the power of art. Nonetheless, as the depiction of an era, a passion, and one woman's helplessness in the face of history, The Translator succeeds. Much can be forgiven of a book that makes us feel that words are important--that they can in fact change the world. --Mary Park

From Publishers Weekly

Writer's writer Crowley, who has been working for years on a series that weaves fantasy elements into larger, more naturalistic plots (Love and Sleep; Aegypt; Daemonomania), here abandons the otherworldly for a novel that builds realistically toward a historic event: the Cuban missile crisis. Christa "Kit" Malone and her brother, Ben, have rarely lived anywhere longer than a year: their father works on some hush-hush, inexplicable cybernetic business for the Department of Defense, and their mother has become an expert in packing. When Ben, with whom Kit is very tight, joins the Green Berets at the end of the 1950s, Kit, partly in protest, gets pregnant. Teenage pregnancy being more scandalous then than now, her folks stash her with some nuns until she has the baby, which is born dead. With this secret behind her, she goes to a midwestern university and meets a recently exiled Russian poet, Innokenti Falin. Kit, who has written prize-winning poetry herself, is attracted by Falin's story. An orphan raised on the street, his poems grow out of the intersection between learned and street culture, and are indigestible to the Soviets. After Kit receives news that Ben has died in a freak accident in the Philippines, she returns to the university and becomes, if not Falin's lover, at least his partner. Then the Cold War heats up over Cuba, an unnamed government agency starts nosing around Falin and the poet himself begins to act mysteriously. Since novels are built to show, not tell, few novelists, outside of Nabokov in Pale Fire, can both outline a great poet and produce the poetry. Although Falin does emerge as a vivid figure despite the faltering verses attributed to him, Kit never rings true. Crowley won't break out of cult status with this novel, and his fans may be puzzled by his hiatus from the fantastic.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (March 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380978628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380978625
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,279,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Royce E. Buehler on May 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
John Crowley's prose, always a delight, just keeps getting better. Here it's polished like fine crystal: no flashy lyricism, no polysyllabic raids on Roget, just limpid phrases that speak freshly and place you, antennae quivering, in the center of the scene. "The Translator" presents itself as a quiet, small, well-lighted novel, a chamber piece with only four or five speaking parts. On those terms, it succeeds just about perfectly.
In a sense, all of Crowley's novels, even those set in some far future, have been historical novels. Lately, he's become confident enough to choose periods his readers can remember. His ongoing tetralogy (begun in "Aegypt") has been bringing the mid seventies back to life with perfect political and cultural pitch; "The Translator" does the same for the repressed, restless, hopeful, doom-haunted Zeitgeist of the few years between Eisenhower's fifties and LBJ's sixties. Within that grey-lit zone unfolds the story of a campus romance. Its special tincture of the erotic with the Platonic - when a Russian interlocutor, many years later, asks our heroine Kit whether she and Professor Falin were "lovers", she is honestly unable to remember - would have rung false in any other epoch.
But while Kit narrates her simple story, Crowley has many other fish surreptitiously sizzling in the fire. He is studying the nature of translation, the nature of personal identity, the nature of national identity; the ways in which poetry fails to be genuine poetry both when it is, and when it is not, politically "relevant." And finally the themes and the personal histories of this uncharacteristically realistic novel do not appear to be resolvable, apart from the angelic mythology explored in Falin's final poem.
Read more ›
Comment 36 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
By A Customer on December 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most powerful and moving books
I've ever read. Couldn't put it down and then couldn't
stop thinking about it afterwards. I'm still re-reading
passages in order to relive the sensations.
The act of translation and the ideas and issues surrounding
it are artfully used as a trampoline for delving into
many other interesting and emotional topics...
A wonderful, layered experience.
Comment 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
This is the kind of reading experience in which you may find that you are breathing quietly and slowly, forgetting to eat or sleep, and letting the kids watch way too much television. The dog will mourn at your feet until you, as slowly as possible, turn the last page.
Comment 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A story of an American girl who helped a Russian dissident translate his poems in 1960s.
It's a story about poetry, but it's not a literary criticism. It's about love, but it's not a love story. It's about politics, but it's not a political thriller. It's about coming of age, but it's not a Bildungsroman. It's also about Caribbean Missile Crisis and immigration and post-USSR Russia and suicide and tornadoes and using words on backs of multi-volumed encyclopedia as a road map for childhood fantasies.
The beauty of the book is in the way it moves from one aspect or topic to another, not dwelling on them too much, but just enough to convey emotions and provoke thoughts, intertwining them into a cohesive whole and combining lightness and intensity in a very compelling way.
Comment 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Told during the 1960s with the Cuban Missile Crisis as a backdrop, John Crowley has created a smart love story in The Translator. The story follows Christa, a college student who develops a relationship with one of her instructors, Falin, a Russian poet who has been exiled from his country under mysterious circumstances. Much like the translations that Christa is making for Falin of his poems, their relationship is complicated and intricate. John Crowley's prose is beautifully written and the story is well paced. An overall enjoyable book.
Comment 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
In the interests of full disclosure, I hold "Little, Big" (and to a slightly lesser extent "Engine Summer") in such high esteem that Crowley could probably publish a book consisting of nothing but his grocery lists, or just a book of blank pages, and I'd still give it the highest rating allowed. He's the rare writer that can combine a vivid imagination for the fantastic with absolutely matchless prose, able to ground us in the ephemeral while still making it seem like a dispatch from a world that only touches our tangentially. His reputation as a fantasy writer is absolutely deserved.

Meanwhile, here we are in a novel that has nothing to do with fantasy at all.

This one is a bit of a curveball in his oeuvre, coming in between the last volumes of his Aegypt tetraology and it's not clear whether this was just a minor idea he wanted to pursue as a palette cleanser of sorts between other works or an attempt to do something different than his usual tales. Set in the early 1960s just before and during the Cuban Missile Crisis, it depicts the coming of age of a young girl in college as she learns what it is to be a woman while hanging out with an old exiled Russian poet whose name might as well be Metaphor For Our Sins. Christa "Kit" Malone has some skill in poetry, having once won a contest already, finds herself fascinated by the recent campus acquisition of Falin, a poet who was so good at what he did that the Russians didn't see any reason they shouldn't share his gifts with the world and kicked him right out of the country.
Read more ›
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews