Translate This Book!

By Geoff Wisner

Perhaps it’s unnecessary to draw attention to Translate This Book! at The Quarterly Conversation — after all, The New Yorker has already done so — but I wanted to point out two African volumes in the list: Aynfelale or “Let Us Not Separate,” written by Alemseged Tesfai and recommended by Charles Cantalupo, and La Orilla africana or “The African Shore,” written by Rodrigo Rey Rosa and recommended by Chris Andrews.

Here’s a little of Andrews’ tantalizing description of La Orilla africana, a novel whose story is held together through the device of an owl that “circulates among the human characters, linking their lives”:

The owl is more than a mere plot device: it reveals what the humans are too wary or embarrassed to show each other — the need for power, the will to care — and is also a locus of experience: in two discreet but crucial passages we perceive the world through its eyes and ears. La Orilla africana is written in very short chapters (sometimes less than a page long) that often stop before the point at which a less subtle novelist would aim for strong effects.

And don’t forget to check out recommendations by WWB’s own Susan Harris, Rohan Kamicheril, Ilya Kaminsky, and Sal Robinson.


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