Book Review: Two books in translation, two different perspectives

I just finished reading two books that were translated from other languages to English, and enjoyed both. However, the second one made me laugh and resonated with me more than the first one. So, here are my thoughts on each book:)

  • In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri- Translated from Italian to English (Translator: Ann Goldstein)

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I have read just one other book from Jhumpa Lahiri- The Namesake, which is a really good book as well, if you haven’t read it:) And I have ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ on my TBR list as well. This book is unique in the sense that Italian is not the author’s original/birth language- it is actually Bengali. It is also not the language she studied and writes primarily in- that is English. But she falls in love with Italian and vows to learn it and spends almost 10 years learning, studying, and living the language. She even relocates to Rome from New York, in order to be part of the core of the language, and understand the vibe of the language from their people. Another interesting part of the book is that all the chapters are shown in Italian on the left and beside it on the right, the English translation.

The chapters are short and succinct. I loved the way Jhumpa Lahiri uses various analogies from her life and experiences – ranging from difficulty in learning a language, comparing learning a new language with falling in love, or motherhood, etc. to describe her feelings about her journey to learn Italian. This book can actually be categorised as an autobiographical venture by the author, or a non-fiction book. Absolutely worth a read.

  • Look at Me by Mareike Krügel – Translated from German to English (Translator: Imogen Taylor)
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Image sourced from Goodreads

 

I was lucky to get a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange of an honest review. And I just loved this book! I can’t even begin to describe this book and the story, but what I liked so much about the book, were the thoughts the main protagonist and narrator- Katharine, during the course of the events of a single day! I would call it a tragic comedy. As you read about all the mishaps in the narrator’s life- from her past, to the events of this day and what is coming for her in her future, you will wonder how is she even dealing with all this and keeping her sanity!

She is a mother of two- Good boy Alex, and attention deficit but kind girl Helli/Helena. She has a loving husband, Costas, who has to stay away from home for work a lot, two funky neighbours- Heinz and Theo (one of who is a woman and has had a sex change surgery I think), her postcard friend- Ann-Britt, her talented sister- Sissi, and her best friend/ex flatmate- Killian (who is a man). Each character is quirky in their own sense and while you get introduced to each character, there is also some scary mishap happening in the background, such as a severed thumb, bleeding nose, burning dryer, lost rats, deaths and cancer- yes, cancer. Katharina loves making lists- about everything, and that made me think of  me- you should see my private diary- it is full of such lists! Lol! And her thoughts on subjects like love, technology, friendship, career, feminism, motherhood, are again so relatable. Or at least I can say that I have had similar thoughts many times in my life too:) She also loves her classical music and that is the only other thing that gives her true joy, than her family, children and friends. The ending of the book is funny and open ended, leaving you with some hope for Katharine. I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to all the hassled moms out there:)

** A copy of this book was provided by Netgalley in exchange of an honest review**

Psst! I also completed my MMD’s 2018 Reading challenge category- of a book in translation with both these books! yay!

***A big thank you for one of the readers who rightly pointed out that I had to mention the names of the translators as well. So I have updated this post with their names as well:)***

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Two books in translation, two different perspectives

  1. Charlotte Collins says:

    You mention several times in this blog post that you read both books in translation, yet you do not name the translators. The highlighted sentences “Translated from Italian to English” and “Translated from German to English” are left tantalisingly incomplete. The first should read “Translated from Italian to English by Ann Goldstein”, the second “Translated from German to English by Imogen Taylor”.
    When reading a book in translation, especially (but not only) if you like it, consider that every word you are reading was written by the translator, in English. A book in translation has been (re)written by two people. I doubt you would forget to credit the author. Please remember to #namethetranslator, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Prachi says:

      Hi Charlotte! Thank you so much for your feedback and I absolutely agree with you. I’m going to keep this in mind and update my original post with the names of the translators as well😊 thanks again and happy reading!

      Like

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