Today’s horrible reads may not actually be bad books. They may just be horrible translations. In the wake of Steigg Larson’s Millennium Trilogy (which I adored), the market was flooded with Scandinavian translations. All of them claimed to be the next big hit from across the ocean. Some of them were great (Jussi Adler-Olsen who I’ll review at some point), but most are victims of slapdash translations into the loosest form of English.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a lover of the psychological thrillers, so I’ve read a huge number of these books. Correction, I’ve started a number of these books. A lot of them have really excellent concepts, and that’s why I say they may not be bad books. Since I can’t read their original languages (trust me, I’m balls at learning languages), I’m stuck with the translation and the way the translator has interpreted the writing.
Writing is so nuanced that a word choice can change an entire sentence. The word chosen by the translator can technically mean the same thing, but can make the writing seem overblown or dull. That profoundly changes the reader’s experience. The translation is just as important as the original text. Writers, editors – if you must publish for an international audience (and I think you should), please get a good translator and then have the translation edited by someone who is a native speaker. This goes for into and out of English. Respect the readers your trying to appeal to. We want to read your stuff. But we want want to be good. Two books make today’s post. Neither gets a real review because I didn’t get far enough into them to really say much.
The Hypnotist by Joona Linna
My coworker called this a five star book– like that come to work exhausted because she stayed up too late reading kind of good. On her recommendation, I bought the ebook and started it a couple times. I thought maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood, so I put it aside and tried again later. But no matter how many times I tried, I couldn’t get in to the story. I finally forced myself to keep reading and the plot did get more interesting. I think there really might be a good idea buried in there, but I couldn’t find it. I spent too much time re-writing the sentences. Sorry, Linna, I just won’t be finishing your book, but you have my money already, so you’re welcome.
Unwanted by Fredrika Bergman and Alex Recht
Honestly, I don’t remember anything about this book other than the nagging feeling that the writing was so horrible that I barely made it through more than a couple pages. I re-read the synopsis and still remember nothing except that feeling. But it sounds so good! I think I might have to re-think this one and give it another try. Library request submitted. I guess I’ll have to wait and confirm if my gut feeling is right.