Tag Archive | translations

What I Read: In the Sea There are Crocodiles

To tell you the truth, blog, I’ve been ignoring you a bit. Katie and I have been running around like chickens with our heads cut off, searching desperately for an apartment because we have to be out of the place we’re subletting in about a week. We found a place, and we put a deposit down, and now all they have to do is accept us, which hopefully will happen before work starts next Wednesday so that I can get stuff moved in before I have to worry about my internship. Anyway, the reason I’m telling you this is because the subway rides we were taking multiple times a couple days in a row were a whole hour long, so I got in a lot of reading and I read In the Sea There Are Crocodiles.

Title: In the Sea There are Crocodiles

Author: Fabio Geda

This book was written by a man named Fabio, so obviously it was good. But actually, it’s the novelization of the true story of a boy named Enaiatollah Akbari who, at the age of ten, is left alone in Pakistan by his mother, who wants nothing more than to get Enaiatollah out of their home in Afghanistan and into safer areas that aren’t crawling with angry Taliban. Enaiatollah narrates to Fabio his journey from Afghanistan to Pakistan to Iran to Turkey to Greece and finally to Italy where he gets political asylum.

Obviously this book is at points heartbreakingly sad, but it’s also very beautifully written. If I hadn’t been on the subway as I finished, I probably would’ve cried a bit, because the ending has some pretty cathartic moments. (I reacted similarly to the ending of The Book Thief except with that I was alone in my room so I cried like an emotional turd; will blog about that book soon.) ANYWAY, the tone and style is really great and soft and sea-like and I really really liked it. It felt like the story really was being told to the reader, as it was to Fabio. I loved the little bits of italicized conversation between Fabio and Enaiatollah, also; oftentimes these were the saddest bits.

At only 215 pages, the book is pretty short (I actually read it on my phone, so I had no idea how long it was until I looked it up just now on the interwebs; KINDLES. LIBRARIES. NOW.) but it’s excellent and worth a read right now. Go read it. Really. Apparently it was up for a pretty prestigious award in Italy, too. (It’s a translation!) Speaking of, things that are weird to me: translations. I’m pretty into the language and style in novels, and it’s difficult with translations to know what was there and what wasn’t and obviously it is impossible for a translation to be 100% faithful to the original because different languages and different cultures just have different meanings attached to different words etc., etc. So I have to wonder, was the Italian version better? Worse? I will never know because my Italian is fairly limited, but these are things I think about. (Cool kid.)

In other news, I have approximately 12 books I read before In the Sea There are Crocodiles that I intend to blog about because I’ve been blogging about every book I’ve read since January, but most of them are YA or children’s, and I hate putting only YA and children’s books on here so I decided to skip ahead and mix things up by putting a book for people my age up. I can’t help the YA thing, but I promise I’m trying. (It isn’t my fault that Wildwood just came out, but at least that one is children’s, so it’s not YA romance which is a step up, right?)

Here are some grown-up books I’ve gotten recently, in a picture edited on my phone to look special or something. Can’t really remember what vibe I was going for. Anyway, if my new reading material says anything, it says that I’m a pretentious nerd. (We already knew that.)

(P.S. Consider the Lobster is so good so far. There’s this essay in it called “Authority and American Usage” and I about peed myself it was so good. I doubt a wide audience shares my enthusiasm for it.)

(P.P.S. WordPress just told me this is my 50th post! Probably this is the best I’ve been at blogging ever. YAY BOOKS and stuff.)

What I Read: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

So I finished this a while ago, but it was before I started blogging again and I forgot about it. It’s not young adult or children’s, so that’s a nice change for this blog. (It’s not my fault I got a bunch of free YA books, okay?) (Also, now I have a New York Public Library card so I’ll read more grown-up books. Especially since I’m still unemployed.) (…someone employ me.)

Title: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Author: Haruki Murakami

This is the first Murakami work I’ve read and I really didn’t have any expectations when I started. Somehow I’d also been living under a rock and didn’t know anything about Murakami. I’m glad I didn’t, though, because this book was super weird and it was nice that that weirdness wasn’t spoiled. (…sorry, people who read my blog and don’t know that Murakami is weird sometimes.)

By weird, I mean surreal. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is super duper surreal. It’s the story of Toru Okada. While he is unemployed his cat runs away, and then his wife never comes home from work. Plot-wise the story is his search for both the cat and his wife. But along the way Toru meets all sorts of interesting characters, from psychics to a strange teenage girl to a former soldier.

It was really really good. It took me a long time to get through it, though. The book is 624 pages long and it isn’t an action-filled book so sometimes the going is slow. While I was reading it I read other books, which is a habit I’ve only recently adopted. Its biggest fault, probably, is the length and the slowness but to be honest, that fit so well with the surreal tone that I wouldn’t have it another way. Also magical realism, yay!

Favorite Quotes: 

“The sky was painted over, a perfect uniform gray. On days like this the clouds probably absorbed the sounds from the surface of the earth. And not just sounds. All kinds of things. Perceptions, for example” (58).

“Maybe when people take their eyes off them, inanimate objects become even more inanimate” (65).

“‘Oh, well, never mind,’ she said, her voice like a little broom sweeping off the dust that had piled up on the slats of a Venetian blind” (130).

I guess time doesn’t flow in order, does it–A, B, C, D? It just sort of goes where it feels like going” (449).

We think it’s only natural to get rice pudding after we put rice pudding mix in the microwave and the bell rings, but to me that’s just a presumption. I would be kind of relieved if, every once in a while, after you put rice pudding mix in the microwave and it rang and you opened the top, you got macaroni gratin” (461).

I think probably you can tell a lot about the feeling of the book after reading those quotes. Anyway, really well-written, super interesting, go read it. 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. Quick note, though, don’t read the Kindle edition. It’s riddled with errors because the book was published before digital files were the norm. Buy the actual book.