Annals of Translation

Dava Sobel, author of Longitude, recently reviewed Richard Holmes's The Age of Wonder for The B&N Review,  noting that it swept her into "riding happily with its heroes through a blaze of adventures and ideas." She sent us this enlightening note recently about the passage of a reviewer's work into other languages:


I don't know whether I ever told you about my wonderful Chinese translator, Xiao Mingbo, who translated two of my books for a Chinese publisher--even though he is employed full time as a professor of information technology.

We stay in touch, and I recently saw him in Shanghai in connection with the total eclipse of July 22. He asked me about on-line book reviews, so of course I referred him to B&N. He took it upon himself to translate my review of The Age of Wonder for a Chinese on-line forum of translators. I thought you'd enjoy hearing what he told me:

I translated your book review of "The Age of Wonder", and it was welcomed by readers in the free translators forum. It was even selected as the editors' choice to appear on the main webpage. I was much delighted to have figured out a good translation for the sentence "His lamp not only caged the flame, it transformed it into a canary."


We're delighted too, and hope to learn what exactly happens to that metaphor when it is translated into Mandarin!



April 17: "In less than three years, both GM and Chrysler would be bankrupt, and a resurgent Ford would wow Wall Street..."

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.