Notable New Books Explore What Gets Lost (and Found) in Translation
What can we lose in translation? In the case of Idra Novey’s Ways to Disappear (Little, Brown), the disappearance of a famous Brazilian novelist, last seen with a suitcase and cigar, turns into an epic journey for her translator. In Rachel Cantor’s Good on Paper (Melville House), Shira Greene is drifting through her academic career when an opportunity to translate a Nobel Prize winner presents itself. Could this be the life change she needs? Or is she stuck in a haze of modern ennui, like the characters in Tony Tulathimutte’s ferociously brilliant Private Citizens (William Morrow), which tracks the lives of four college grads in the Bay Area. Set nearby, The Portable Veblen (Penguin Press), by Elizabeth McKenzie, begins with a young couple in Palo Alto, California, who have decided to marry. But the ambivalence of the bride-to-be, an amateur translator, is troubling. Then there’s Álvaro Enrigue’s Sudden Death (Riverhead Books), translated from Spanish by the award-winning Natasha Wimmer, which imagines a dramatic tennis match between Italian painter Caravaggio and Spanish poet Quevedo.