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Reviews in Project: Translation (407)

A Dark and Cruel God: the Comedy!

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya  (Haruhi Suzumiya, volume 1)

By Nagaru Tanigawa  (Translated by Chris Pai)

18 May, 2015

Translation

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First published in 2003 as Suzumiya Haruhi no Yūutsu, Nagaru Tanigawa’s popular light novel was translated from the original Japanese to English by Chris Pai and published under the title The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by Little, Brown’s Yen Press in 2009

~oOo~

By the time we first meet him, pessimistic high school student and narrator Kyon” (whose real name is never revealed) has resigned himself to the fact that he lives a mundane life in a mundane world and that wonders like aliens, time travel, and ESP powers are matters of pure imagination, nonsense that will never have anything to do with the gray, dull life he will no doubt live. 

And then by chance, he is seated directly in front of Haruhi Suzumiya, disgruntled schoolgirl, noted eccentric, and, quite possibly, living god.


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Attack of the Rootless Cosmicpolitans!

The Fleet of the Springers  (Perry Rhodan, volume 22)

By Kurt Mahr  (Translated by Wendayne Ackerman)

12 Apr, 2015

Translation

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I’ve missed a couple of weeks worth of translated works; I need to catch up. On the other hand, people seem to enjoy my Tears reviews. Here is one intersection of the two types of review.

Perry Rhodan: Peacelord of All the Planets! Unifier of Earth! Guardian of the Galaxy Milky Way! A character who makes me wonder if the German language lacks a word for the concept of subtext! 

The first weekly Perry Rhodan novella appeared in 1961; the ongoing series passed the 2700-episode mark in 2013. Obviously, Perry Rhodan is the Coronation Street of large-scale space opera. 

What it isn’t is … much good, 

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Duelist Noir

The Fencing Master

By Arturo Pérez-Reverte  

25 Mar, 2015

Translation

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Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s 1988 novel El maestro de esgrima, published in English under the title The Fencing Master, takes us to the Spain of 1866, where the long, troubled reign of Isabella II is about to stumble to an end in the Glorious Revolution [1]. Although aware of the political turmoil swirling around him, fencing master Don Jaime Astarloa ignores such grimy realities. He would rather focus on his Quixotic search for the perfect sword thrust, while eking out a small income teaching the gentlemanly art of fencing to upper-class students. Unfortunately for Don Jaime, politics is not going to ignore him.

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Lumikki’s quiet holiday in Prague

As White as Snow  (The Snow White Trilogy, volume 2)

By Salla Simukka  

11 Mar, 2015

Translation

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As White as Snow, the second volume in Salla Simukka’s Snow White trilogy, was originally released in fall 2013 under the title Valkea kuin lumi; the English translation hit virtual bookshelves on March 3rd of this year (2015). It is a great compliment to the first book in the trilogy, As Red as Blood, that I hurried to buy the second book as soon as it was available.

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Better off alone than in bad company

As Red as Blood  (The Snow White Trilogy, volume 1)

By Salla Simukka  (Translated by Owen Witesman)

4 Mar, 2015

Translation

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2014’s As Red As Blood, first book in the Snow White Trilogy, answers a question I didn’t know I had, which is what would happen if a plucky girl detective like Nancy Drew wandered into a Kurt Wallander [1] novel?” Not that seventeen-year-old art student Lumikki Andersson had any intention of playing detective or getting involved in the affairs of three foolish classmates.

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His chief delight was to eat and sleep; and after that — he liked best to make mischief.

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils

By Selma Lagerlöf  (Translated by Velma Swanston Howard)

18 Feb, 2015

Translation

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I didn’t expect my second review of a novel by a Nobel Laureate to arrive so soon after the first but … not only did author Selma Lagerlöf win a Nobel, she was the very first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, which she accomplished in 1909. Go, Lagerlöf!

That’s not an approving gaze I am getting from the author 


so let’s just move on to the review.

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The Dead Man’s Story

Told by the Death’s Head: A Romantic Tale

  (Translated by S. E. Boggs)

4 Feb, 2015

Translation

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Mór Jókai’s 1879 Told by the Death’s Head: A Romantic Tale was inspired by an encounter the author was kind enough to describe in his preface: 

In Part II, Vol. 2, of the Rhenish Antiquarius, I once came across a skull that is said — see page 612 — to swing, enclosed in a metal casket, from an iron bar in the foundry of Ehrenbreitstein fortress. Distinction of this order does not fall to an ordinary mortal. Yon empty shell of human wisdom once bore the burden of no less than twenty-one mortal sins — the seven originalia trebled. Each crime is noted. The criminal confessed to the entire three-times-seven, and yet the death sentence was not passed upon him because of the twenty-one crimes. His fate was decided by the transgression of a military regulation.
What if this skull could speak? What if it could defend itself? — relate, with all the grim humor of one on the rack, the many pranks played — the mad follies committed, from the banks of the Weichsel to the delta of the Ganges!
If my highly esteemed readers will promise to give me their credulous attention, I will relate what was told to me by the death’s head. 

And so he does, in a tale that takes us across Europe and beyond, a tale of love, adventure, and casual anti-Semitism. 

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An interbellum satire

War with the Newts

By Karel Čapek  (Translated by Robert Weatherall & Mary Weatherall)

7 Jan, 2015

Translation

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Karel Čapek’s 1936 satire War with the Newts was published towards the end of Czechoslovakia’s inter-war golden age, a time when the writing was already on the wall for unfortunate Czechoslovakia. One can sense from the novel’s wry, often bitter, humour that Čapek had pretty clear views about what people were really like and those views were not positive ones. Čapek is often funny but it’s a dark funny.

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Obsessive love in the Jazz Age

Silver Wings of the Campanula

By Yuka Nakazato  

31 Dec, 2014

Translation

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Apparently this is the week for novels about obsessive love and survival past death. Which I guess is appropriate for the final week of the year.

Yuka Nakazato’s Silver Wings of the Campanula takes us to 1928 Oxford, where Andrew Borden is a diligent, if reclusive, student who plans make the best of the access to higher learning that a family fortune makes possible. In Paris, Andrew Borden is also a hopelessly addicted degenerate who, thanks to the same family fortune, is conducting an informal scientific experiment: will the ample supply of illegal drugs to be obtained in Paris kill him before syphilis does? Hmmm. 

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Interstellar Raconteur

Trafalgar

By Angélica Gorodischer  

24 Dec, 2014

Translation

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Translated by Amalia Gladhart.

Angélica Gorodischer’s Trafalgar: A Novel was first published in 1979 but in Argentina and in Spanish, which is why I missed it. The subtitle is a lie; this isn’t a novel but a collection of short stories. That the subtitle is a lie is foreshadowing; Medrano Trafalgar is a charming raconteur who entertains his friends with amusing tales of his adventures trading on alien worlds, rambling accounts told over endless cups of coffee, and he does not come across as a man much inhibited by the truth. 

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