What time is it, Mr Wolf?
Up until I started blogging I never really paid attention to wether or not a book was translated. It’s only since reading other blogs (in particular Winstonsdad’s Blog – go and check out Stu’s blog for some real inspiration on who to read in translated books) that I became aware of just what an art it really is. Translating isn’t merely directly translating the words or even the general meaning into English, but it is about really getting under the skin of a book and the very essence of it. It’s a proper skill and has given me a whole new awareness of how a translation can either make or break a book.
My favourite translated book does have to be Wolf Totem, however, as it is actually my favourite book ever regardless of the fact that it is translated from Mandarin. Howard Goldblatt is a professor and has translated numerous works from Chinese into English (and this makes me think I should check out more of his works – especially as I have just found out while googling him that in the first four years of the Asian Man Booker Prize, 3 out of the 4 winners – including Wolf Totem – were translated by him!)
Here is my review of Wolf Totem:
“From the very first page I was hooked. Jiang Rong creates such a vivid and compelling narrative that I found myself similtaniously gripped with the story yet trying to slow down and savour every word, so beautiful was each sentence.
Wolf Totem is semi-autobiographical and Jiang’s passion for the Mongolian grasslands shines through on every page. The description of the grasslands themselves, the wildlife, the lifestyle and survival was stunning. So few books make me believe that I am there at the actual place, but with this book I was there on horseback, hiding from wolves, fleeing for my life, braving blizzards and building campfires. I smiled, I cried, I hoped and I silently pleaded all within the space of an hour. I also fell in love with wild Mongolian wolves. To get to know them was a pleasure – they are clever, cunning, brave, brilliant and I loved following their story (from both sides – the good and the bad). The Little Wolf that was captured and raised by humans both endeared me and broke my heart.
While this book is most certainly a tale of the grasslands of the last 10,000 years and what happens when modern living creeps in, it is also a book about so much more. I can’t praise this enough; I am sad that it has ended as I could have read on for another 500 pages. What a beautiful book, one I highly recommend and one I will be reading again and again.”
I hope I have persuaded you to read it.