Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Translator

Title:  The Translator
Author:  Nina Schuyler
Publication Information:  First Pegasus Books. 2013. 306 pages.

Book Source:  I read this book based on seeing a description on GoodReads.

Favorite Quote:  "I don't think any human being fits neatly into one of your damn labels. It's a simple way of viewing the world. And you are the worse for it because what doesn't fit the label is blocked out."

Hanne Schubert has an affinity for languages. She works as a freelance translator. Her current project is the translation of the most important work of a well known Japanese author. She is completely immersed in the project, feeling as if she knows the characters as people and understands the author's intent. It is with this confidence that she translates the work.

Soon after completing the project, she is in an accident and suffers a head injury with the rare effect of loss of her native language. They only language she is able to speak and understand is Japanese. Attempting to deal with this, she travels to Japan for a conference. There, she is surprised that the author of the work she translated is angry and accusing her of sabotaging the English translation.

Trying to understand, she seeks out Moto, the actor on whom the main character in the book is based. She develops a relationship and comes to question and change some of the beliefs by which she lives her life.

Along the way, the reader learns that Haane is divorced with two children - a son and a daughter. In addition, the reader learns that she is estranged from her daughter. The history of that relationship is slowly revealed as Hanne learns more about herself in her time with Moto.

My biggest concern with this book is that I had to get more than half way through the book until I got what the story is truly about. Before that, it seems to be pieces going in different directions. Is it about the injury? Is it about Haane's work? Is it about her new relationship with Moto? Is it about her history and her children? The different aspects take a long time form a whole. It eventually comes together, but far too late in the book for me.

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