Monday, May 11, 2020

Read with Us 2020: A Book in Translation

For our April book in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge, we chose A Book in Translation.

(Note: The title of each book links to its Amazon page. These are affiliate links.)

Steph's Pick: Minotaur by Benjamin Tammuz

This month I read Minotaur by Benjamin Tammuz. Originally written in Hebrew, the novel follows the story of an Israeli spy who finds the literal woman of his dreams on his 41st birthday. The story is told in 4 sections/4 viewpoints. While the book was engaging in style and had plot twists as any good spy novel should, I hated it.  For writing style and genre I give it a 4 out of 5 stars. For plot and moral of the story I give it no stars.

SPOILER ALERT* In the end every main character but one dies. The author also tried to use a tragic past to make it ‘understandable’ that at the age of 41 he starts to stalk a 17 year old girl that happened to have the hair and general features of his ideal woman. The 17-year-old somehow does not freak out when a stranger starts leaving her letters and speaks of a deep love for her without ever meeting her. Flash forward 10 years, a dead fiancé, years of absence, and a dead spy across the street from her parents’ house, the girl likely commits suicide. The author doesn’t expressly say that, but he implies it. I literally ranted to my roommates and friends about this book for a week. I get that author’s point that the spy’s crazy childhood meant that he never understood love and therefore doesn’t know how to behave. BUT WHY IS A GIRL FROM A WELL ADJUSTED FAMILY ENTERTAINING THIS? I cannot tell you how many times I thought “this book is written by a man” because I don’t know a single woman that would be okay with being on the receiving end of anything the spy did throughout the book.

Becky's Pick: Along the Tapajós by Fernando Vilela

Initially, I planned to (finally!) read A Man Called Ove. But as the month went on, it became clear that I wouldn't be making that happen. I was ready to just give up on this category when Amazon gave me a gift: for World Book Day, they gave Prime members 10 books from around the world ... and one of them happened to be a picture book!

This book is just delightful! It's about siblings living along the Tapajós River in Brazil. When the rain comes, as it does every year, everything floods, and the entire community packs up and moves deep into the rainforest. The siblings soon discover they left their giant tortoise Titi behind, so they take a harrowing journey back to their village to retrieve him.

The illustrations in this book are so fun—there's much to see—and the story itself gives a glimpse of a vastly different culture. I loved reading it, and I think kids will love it, too! 4 stars.

That's it for April! Do you have any suggestions for a book in translation? 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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