In silken prose and with subtle suspense, Nina Schuyler brings us a mesmerizing novel of language and translation, memory loss and heartbreak, and the search for answers in a foreign country. When renowned translator Hanne Schubert falls down a flight of stairs, her injury is an unusual but real condition - the loss of her native language. She is left speaking only Japanese, a language learned later in life. With her personal life at a crossroad, Hanne leaves for Japan. There, the Japanese novelist whose work she translated stunningly confronts her publicly for sabotaging his work. Reeling, Hanne struggles for meaning and seeks out the inspiration for the author’s novel - a tortured, chimerical actor, once a master in the art of Noh theater. Through their passionate and intriguing relationship, Hanne begins to understand the masks she has worn in her life, just as the actor dons the masks that have made him a legend of Noh. The demons from her past and present begin to unfold and Hanne sets out to make amends in this searing and engrossing novel.
this book was extremely interesting to listen to. when i was in college, i had a professor who's main profession was translating Italian poetry into English for American audiences. i had many conversations with him regarding his choice to be a translator...and his feelings on how a translator often has a more difficult task than an original author. getting into the mind of the author, trying to make the correct choices when there are often multiple "English" translations for a foreign language word. i admit i was in awe of him, as he showed me some of his translations and how different they could be by changing just one word's meaning. we would dissect sentences from his translated poetry and he would tweak one word, one phrase...and turn the poem on it's head.
that being said, the sentiment in Hanne Schubert's dialogue about translation hit me in a familiar place. and the idea of Hanne's life being turned on it's head after her fall was extremely congruent with the ideas of her translations.
i don't want to say too much about the novel, as i felt it was a very intriguing and deeply moving portrait of a very layered female character. but what i will say is that Hanne is one of the most complex and difficult characters i have encountered in awhile. i am still conflicted by her...i'm not sure i like her, not sure i dislike her...definitely feel very mixed emotions. but i did enjoy reading about her...and her discovery of herself, the good, the bad and the extremely ugly.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
If you’re a parent who has made some real mistakes with raising your kids, or one who is having a hard time with a child, this is a book to listen to. The main character, Hanne, shows us that we never really grow up, we are constantly growing up. And it takes some of us a lot longer than others to make any progress. It's beautifully written and the narrator was the perfect choice.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I enjoyed the emphasis on language and all of its nuances. How your own beliefs and values shape the way you interpret the world - or a novel.
I found the book was slow to start, but I kept wondering where the story was going, so continued.