Friday, September 25, 2015

Book Review: The Translator by Nina Schuyler


Ever read a story and then find yourself constantly thinking about it? Even long after you read it? This story will do that to you - trust me! The character of Hanne Schubert will inspire you to read your own translations into this interwoven story of language, culture, relationships and regret.
I love when I learn something new from a book. In this case, I knew little about the intricate work translators do as they convert a story from one language into another. It's not as easy a replacing A with B! Translators must rewrite the text so it makes sense not only in both languages, but in both cultures as well. In this story, Hanne Schubert has taken the challenge of translating a Japanese novel into English. She is consumed by the task, so much so, that when she suffers a brain injury from a dramatic fall, she only regains her ability to speak Japanese despite being fluent in several languages.
This fall does more than alter Hanne's ability to communicate, it is the catalyst for Hanne to translate her own life from a new perspective. Hanne travels to Japan where her altered language abilities will help her fit in far better than in San Francisco. Once there, Hanne is hit hard again; this time by the Japanese author who denounces Hanne's translated version of his novel. Seeking to prove him wrong, Hanne seeks the inspiration for the Japanese novel, Moto, a star in the Japanese art of Noh Theater. 
Here's where the story begins to pull at your heart. As Hanne thinks she is researching the Japanese novel's main character, she is truly on an internal journey. Hanne begins to translate her own life through childhood and more recent memories, particularly of her estranged daughter. Sadly, she hasn't seen nor spoken to her grown daughter in over six years. Soon three stories, the original novel Hanne translated, Moto's own burdens and Hanne's family life, come to co-exist with one theme of love, loss and longing.
There are so many lessons of acceptance and the complexity of human nature weaved expertly through this novel. I cried at the ending despite it being the perfect way to pull these three storylines together.  
I won't soon forget The Translator.
Thank you WOW-Women on Writing for providing this stop on Nina Schuyler's blog tour. For more info and tour dates, click here!
THE TRANSLATOR by Nina Schuyler
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.

About the Author:
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 M ountain 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.
Author's Websites:                 

Nina Schuyler’s website:
Twitter: @Nina_Schuyler

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