In Translation

Obama surprise

That’s the reaction I would expect.

There’s the old adage that the more familiar you become with other people from around the world, the more you realize that we’re all – deep down at any rate – the same.  I’m probably not digging deep enough because my experience has often, if not always, been the opposite.  I’ve also been finding that recently with books.  The novels written by the usual mix of Canadians, Americans, Brits, Australian and Kiwis may surprise me with a plot turn or delight me with a turn of phrase, but I can’t remember the last time one of them stopped me in my tracks with a “Really?  Who would say that, think that in the normal course of life?”  Two books I’ve read in translation of late have.  Granted The Dinner by Herman Koch is written for just such an effect so that assessment may be wholly unfair, but The Weekend by Bernhard Schlink struck me in exactly the same way.  And, no, I don’t normally (that is, never) hang out with ex-far left terrorists (read Red Brigade types) and sympathisers, but I do not have socialist rants and murderous mindsets in mind here.  Rather it was the father’s reaction to his teenage daughter’s attempt to seduce his former friend, a fifty some year old terrorist recently released from prison.  It wasn’t the supressed desire as he placed his coat over her naked body (icky but not necessarily surprising), but the indifference to her action.  Which was shared by everyone.  It wasn’t a case of vain attempts to convince all there was nothing to see here, but that there really wasn’t.  Wouldn’t happen in my hometown.

Leave a Reply