Synopsis: When renowned translator Hanne Schubert falls down a flight of stairs, she suffers an unusual condition― the loss of her native language. Speaking only Japanese, a language she learned later in life, she leaves for Japan. There, to Hanne’s shock, the Japanese novelist whose work she recently translated confronts her publicly for sabotaging his work.
Reeling, Hanne 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, volatile relationship, Hanne is forced to reexamine how she has lived her life, including her estranged relationship with her daughter. In elegant prose, Nina Schuyler offers a deeply moving and mesmerizing story about language, love, and the transcendence of family.
The Translator won the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Award for General Fiction and placed second for overall fiction. It was also shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Writing Prize.
Title: The Translator
Author: Nina Schuyler
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Release Date: August 15, 2015
Source: Publisher via WOW! Women on Writing
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of The Translator from the publisher and WOW! Women on Writing in exchange for a fair and honest review. Opinions expressed are mine.
Every situation, every person has a melody playing, even if you can’t hear it.” ~ Nina Schuyler, The Translator
Before I go any further, I want you to lock in on the cover of The Translator. I know we’ve been told over and over we can’t judge a book by its cover, but I ask you, “Why not?” Especially in the case of a cover as lovely as this one. I will admit to having selected books on the basis of how the cover made me feel emotionally. So, there is that about The Translator.
And there is Hanne Schubert’s story. With a background in literary translations, Hanne is working on a project for the famous Japanese novelist and is engrossed to the point of having dreams of the main character, a Noh performer.
Subsequently, Hanne falls and the resulting injury leaves her with an unusual but real condition–the loss of her native language. This leaves Hanne able to only speak her secondary language, Japanese, leading Hanne to seek comfort and solace in Japan.
Buried beneath this story is another story, a mother-daughter story written with brilliance and power. Not only have the mother and daughter struggled in their relationship for years, Hanne’s marriage is falling apart, and now her relationship with the Japanese novelist is tremulous because the writer feels Hanne has sabotaged his work.
Desperately trying to sort out all these tensions in her world, Hanne leads us on a journey of self-discovery through language and its relative meanings based on the undercurrents in our lives–love, anger, bitterness, compassion, and more.
Quoting Ellen Sussman, author of French Lessons, in her review beautifully sums up the force within The Translator:
Schuyler writes with piercing intelligence and real insight into the complex worlds of literary translation and human relationships.
If you, like me, enjoy reading about other cultures and traditions, you will enjoy Schuyler’s newest novel. The reader is swept away to Japan with a character who now only speaks Japanese and not a word of English. It is interesting to experience Hanne’s struggles with her loss of English, making her more sensitive to others struggling with learning new languages or the loss of speech. The Japanese author and Hanne’s family members also bring unique awareness to the reader’s sense of the book by their individual reactions to Hanne in light of her supposed “sabotage” of the Japanese novel and her inability to communicate with her native language. A slow-to-start read, but one which picks up pace and becomes a book hard to put down. I highly recommend it.
Click on Rafflecopter Logo to Enter Giveaway
to Win Copy of The Translator and a Packet of
Japanese Bonsai Cherry Blossom Seeds
Meet Nina Schuyler:
Nina Schuyler’s first novel, The Painting, (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2004), was a finalist for the Northern California Book Awards. It was also selected by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the Best Books of 2004, and dubbed a “fearless debut” by MSNBC and a “great debut” by the Rocky Mountain News. It’s been translated into Chinese, Portuguese, and Serbian.Her short story, “The Bob Society,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poems, short stories and essays have appeared in ZYZZYVA, Santa Clara Review, Fugue, The Meadowland Review, The Battered Suitcase, and other literary journals. She reviews fiction for The Rumpus and The Children’s Book Review. She’s fiction editor at Able Muse.She attended Stanford University for her undergraduate degree, earned a law degree at Hastings College of the Law and an MFA in fiction with an emphasis on poetry at San Francisco State University. She currently teaches creative writing at the University of San Francisco.
Connect with Author: Nina Schuyler’s website: http://www.ninaschuyler.com/