Stop the Presses

Speaking of the Times, the Sunday Book Review section also contained a full-length review of (gasp!) a book of fiction in translation. Granted, it was about The Successor, the new novel by Man Booker International Prize winner Ismail Kadare, but still a great surprise and a delight. Here’s a tiny excerpt from Lorraine Adams’s review:

The novel opens with Kadare’s characteristic simplicity. “The Designated Successor was found dead in his bedroom at dawn on December 14.” The Successor (his name is never given) “succumbed to a nervous depression and took his own life with a firearm.” But when Yugoslav radio suggests he might have been murdered, Albanian television issues “bulletins to allow for both versions of the event.” This is the beginning of the novel’s permutations of the Successor’s last night. Looming over the search for the truth is not only manmade tyranny but the shadow of an even greater power: “In the middle of the sky, which stretched as far as the eye could see and carried the news far and wide, stood a high clump of clouds like a celestial wrath.”

An interesting essay by Kadare’s translator appeared at the Complete Review last May, discussing the challenges of re-translating an author’s work. (Rather than translating directly from the Albanian, David Bellos had access only to the French text.)