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The Translatorby Nina Schuyler
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Schuyler returns to Japan in her second novel about relationships, art, and the intersection between the two (after The Painting). Literary translator Hanne Schubert has just finished perhaps her largest project yet — the English translation of a well-known Japanese author's latest book, Trojan Horse Trips. Fluent in seven languages, Schubert thinks this could be her big break, allowing her to translate full-time. But a fall down a flight of stairs leaves her with a puzzling affliction — the loss of all of her languages except Japanese. Unable to converse with people in English or German, her two mother tongues, Schubert accepts a speaking gig in Japan, where she meets drunken, angry Kobayashi, who accuses her of ruining his novel with her translation. Devastated, Schubert sets off to find the Japanese stage actor on whom Kobayashi based his protagonist, determined to prove her translation accurate. But her journey begins to reveal truths about her past and the insidious ways in which it has wound its way into her day job. Solid prose and intriguing characters drive this complex tale of love, loss, and forgiveness. Agent: Mollie Glick, Foundry Literary + Media. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A hauntingly beautiful novel about a woman who loses her language in an accident and must re-evaluate her life as a translator and mother
“Schuyler writes with piercing intelligence and real insight into the complex worlds of literary translation and human relationships.” — Ellen Sussman, author of the New York Times bestselling novel, French Lessons
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.
When renowned translator Hanne Schubert tumbles down a flight of stairs, she suffers a brain injury and ends up with an unusual but real condition: the ability to speak the one language she learned later in life—Japanese—despite losing her native tongue. Isolated from the English-speaking world, Hanne leaves San Francisco and retreats to Japan. While Hanne is in the middle of giving a speech about translation, the Japanese novelist whose work she has recently translated storms the stage and accuses her of mangling his work. Distraught, she seeks out new inspiration for her translation: a Japanese Noh actor named Moto who stands at an existential crossroads.
Through their contentious interactions, Moto slowly finds his way back onto stage while Hanne begins to understand how she mistranslated not only the novel, but also her daughter, who has not spoken to Hanne in six years. Armed with new knowledge languages both spoken and unspoken, she sets out to make amends.
About the Author
Nina Schuyler's first novel, The Painting, was nominated for the Northern California Book Award, and named a “Best Book of the Year” by the San Francisco Chronicle and Rocky Mountain News. She was nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Prize and teaches creative writing at the University of San Francisco.
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