The Translator by Nina Schuyler
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication Date: July 2013
Categories: Contemporary Women, Literary
When renowned translator Hanne Schubert falls down a flight of stairs, she suffers from an unusual but real condition -- the loss of her native language. Speaking only Japanese, a language 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 and understated prose, Nina Schuyler offers a deeply moving and mesmerizing story about language, love, and the transcendence of family.
The first thing that intrigued me about this book was the cover. Isn't it striking? I know we're not supposed to judge books by their covers but how could I not? This one is gorgeous.
I was looking forward to reading The Translator for a few reasons. The premise sounded fab. Can you imagine what it would be like to lose the ability to speak your native language? Also, I enjoy reading about Asian cultures. I was eager to learn more about Japan and about Noh theater.
While I looked forward to all of those things what really drew me was the main character Hanne. She is such an interesting and realistic person. She knows best for the people in her life. So much so that her daughter hasn't spoken to her in years and the author whose work she translated basically calls her a hack. In public.
Hanne's first language is gone. Her career is in deep trouble. Her family is broken. She struggles, as many of us do, to find the meaning of it all. Where did she go wrong? What could she have done differently? Hanne takes a journey seeking answers and redemption.
It was a journey that I was glad to take with her.
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.
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.