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The Translator: A Novel Paperback – August 15, 2014
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*Starred Review* As a translator, Hanne Schubert believes in language—its power to convey and emote, to create common ground and bridge gaps in understanding. After a serious fall, Hanne awakes to find she can speak only one of her many languages, Japanese. Her native English is gone, which means her teaching career, translation projects, and life in San Francisco is, for the time, on hold. Rather than recover in isolation, she travels to Japan for a conference at which she’s accused of mistranslating the famous Kobayashi’s latest novel. Wounded, ashamed, and purposeless, Hanne reexamines her life thanks to the philosophy of a curious new friend. Multilingual readers will be delighted by how Schuyler weaves the intricacies and the process of translation into the novel without interrupting the story or its tone. Monolinguals, too, will relate to Schuyler’s carefully sculpted, complex characters and their relationships, the most tender of which involves Hanne’s poignant transformation in regard to her daughter, Brigitte. Evocative, powerful, and well-paced, Schuyler’s novel illuminates how interpreting a person is as complicated an art as translating a book because of the risk of reading what one wants to discover rather than what one needs to learn. --Katharine Fronk --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“In Hanne Schubert’s talent for language, Nina Schuyler delivers the importance of words in literature and in life.”
- Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters
“A lyrical, haunting tale delivered with both grace and smarts. Nina Schuyler skillfully strips away her translator character’s primary language, and sends her on a journey of self-discovery.”
- Lalita Tademy, author of the New York Times bestsellers Cane River and Red River
“Evocative, powerful, and well-paced, Schuyler’s novel illuminates how interpreting a person is as complicated an art as translating a book.”
- Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
Top customer reviews
The story's overall mood was sad and depressing, which was the last thing I wanted to feel, especially after reading the ending and conclusion of this story. With all of the flashbacks that the book shared with regards to the estranged daughter of the main character, Hanne, I was truly hoping for a much happier ending. The ending seemed very anti-climactic after all of the thoughts and dreams the main character had about her daughter.
Also, the section of the book that included her stay in Japan felt unnecessarily long. I understood the importance for Hanne to realize how she made the mistake of rewriting the translated story about Jiro, but I was just wishing that the book would move on in this section and many other sections as well.
The journey of Hanne through her rediscovery of life just took too long in my opinion. Though there were lovely parts of the book that I enjoyed reading, the overall flow of the plot was very droll and hum drum. Most of the story seem pushed and drawn out too far. Perhaps my patience was wearing thin with this book, but either way that is how I felt about this book overall.
The book did seem to suffer from some editing problems and some confusing pronouns. Overall it is an easy read. It provides many topics for discussion: parenting, how to respond to sorrow, does translation ever work across cultures.
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