Monday, 23 May 2011

LOST IN TRANSLATION by Nicole Mones


Sometimes when one can’t sleep in the middle of the night, one will read anything one can get one’s shaking hands on.

Mine unsteadily landed on LOST IN TRANSLATION by Nicole Mones. Now, unlike 90% of everything else in popular culture, this has nothing to do with the movie.

It is a trashy tale of an American translator in China who is hired to help an archaeologist find the bones of Peking man, a homo erectus fossil lost during the Second World War. Here are the main elements:
- an engaging find-the-object plot
- ‘evocative’ descriptions of China (ie. evoking nausea)
- stupidly obvious psychological issues for the translator
- a background story relating to a 17th century Jesuit, intended to give a literary patina to this nonsense

The translator who is a white American is apparently only interested in Chinese men. We are supposed to find this charming, but really I just found it racist. For some reason, people don’t seem to get this: anytime you outline how you only like one race, you are by definition a racist.

Anyway it was a good page turner, but I had to stop after 250 pages or so. I could easily have got to the end, but really, life is short.

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