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Life in Translation

by Anthony Ferner

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632,208,957 (4.25)None
Fiction. The narrator looks back on the muddle of his life as a literary translator. He dreams of finding literary fame while toiling away at his translation of an important but dauntingly bleak Peruvian novel. At one point he earns a living by working for a large multinational company whose hidebound hierarchy infuriates him. With his professional ambitions frustrated, his dead-end jobs take him to London and Lima, Paris and Madrid, Leiden and back to London. His edgy relationships with friends, family, colleagues and lovers seem to go nowhere. The story is told through a mosaic of interlinked episodes that together create a picture of the narrator's bumpy road to maturity. Finally, he realizes, painfully, that he, a translator, is prone to 'misreadings': of his own strengths and weaknesses, of the women in his life, of the viability of his translation career, of the options open to him. Can a chance meeting in a Dutch town with a key figure from his past bring some much-desired clarity?… (more)
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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The first half of the book seemed very disjointed and skipped around in time, occasionally reintroducing characters we already met. The second half settled into a more cohesive narrative. I didn’t particularly like the main character, but I don’t think that was the point; he was fairly realistic.
  barefeet4 | Jun 9, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I got this e-book courtesy of the Early Reviewers program of LibraryThing, and Holland Dark Press, in exchange for a honest review, and am very grateful for it.

I am a translator by trade myself, though currently unemployed, and as such I can identify with most things the author writes about. And liked almost everything about it.

It could be also called “life, loves and mores (and troubles) of a literary translator”.

I have a real brainy friend who is not exactly a literary translator, but close to it, and is now the the Head of the International Department of a certain Spanish University (travel, envies, way of life…). I will pass this book along to him, I’m sure he’ll be able to identify.

The Dutch-English author takes you through his career, several decades and countries, and each place, anecdote and character is more interesting than the former ones (beginning with lovely Gaby, his cousin mark, the “terrible” Julia Pinto…).

Will he at last have the courage to find stability in his life? And with whom?

To finish the translation of the novel he has been working on for years?

Well, of course by the end you’ll find out, after a few surprises. ( )
  mrshudson | Jun 5, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It is not often that a translator takes centre stage in a novel so this is worth reading if for no other reason. As it happens there are other good reasons to read this book chief among them being the repeated mistakes our protagonist makes in translating everyday human signs and signals while he struggles with the finer and academic points of modern translation theory. Yes really.
Socially inept he trudges his way through translation school whence he trudges from conference to conference now and then crossing linguistic swords with his nemesis and possible life partner. And during his Odyssey we get insights into the controversies raging in modern translation practice which, strangely enough, are engrossing.
A very good stab at a difficult area. I'm just glad that the protagonist is not my translator - glad too that his nemesis isn't either. It did make me think hard about the very nature of translation and that can only be a good thing surely ? ( )
  papalaz | May 26, 2019 |
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Fiction. The narrator looks back on the muddle of his life as a literary translator. He dreams of finding literary fame while toiling away at his translation of an important but dauntingly bleak Peruvian novel. At one point he earns a living by working for a large multinational company whose hidebound hierarchy infuriates him. With his professional ambitions frustrated, his dead-end jobs take him to London and Lima, Paris and Madrid, Leiden and back to London. His edgy relationships with friends, family, colleagues and lovers seem to go nowhere. The story is told through a mosaic of interlinked episodes that together create a picture of the narrator's bumpy road to maturity. Finally, he realizes, painfully, that he, a translator, is prone to 'misreadings': of his own strengths and weaknesses, of the women in his life, of the viability of his translation career, of the options open to him. Can a chance meeting in a Dutch town with a key figure from his past bring some much-desired clarity?

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