March 23, 2007 archive

The Translator – Book Review

‘It’s a lonely thing,’ he said, ‘you can’t avoid it.’
‘The spiritual path. Everyone is on his own in this.’
-From The Translator, page 202-

Sammar, a Sudanese widow who has left her child in the care of her aunt and moved to Scotland to become an Arabic translator, narrates this poetic novel of love and faith.

I have read some critical reviews of this book which condemn it as “only a love story.” The Translator is, in fact, a love story – but it is also much more. Aboulela is a controlled, meditative writer who weaves a deeper meaning into her novel. The gapping maw between cultures and religions are exposed in this simple story with a subtleness I appreciated. The author explores grief, and moving on, and clinging to one’s faith – all anchored in an exquisite atmosphere of place.

Aboulela has a finely tuned sense of what it means to love. In one scene, Sammar is cooking soup for Rae, a man who Sammar loves and who has been ill. In this uncomplicated act, Aboulela reveals something about Sammar’s character which anyone who has loved another can relate to.

She made soup for him. She cut up courgettes, celery and onion. Her feelings were in the soup. The froth that rose to the surface of the water when she boiled the chicken, the softened, shapeless tomatoes. Pasta shaped into the smallest stars. Spice that she had to search for, the name unknown in English, not in any of the Arabic-English dictionaries that she had. -From The Translator, page 97-

The Translator transports the reader to another culture, offering glimpses into what it means to have faith and how difficult it is to abide by one’s beliefs. It is not a complicated novel; but it left me contemplating the larger issues of life.


To read more reviews or discussions on this book, please visit The NYT Most Notable Book Blog.

A Thinking Blogger – Who Me????

Nancy over at Bookfoolery and Babble has  nominated me for The Thinking Blogger award! I think I blushed from the tips of my toes to the top of my head last night when I found out – I’m excited and honored and am very happy to “pass on the joy” to five bloggers who make me think!

Here are the “rules” …

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.

What I discovered this morning, as I explored all my favorite blogs, was it is nearly impossible for me to narrow this down to only five. Some were easy to eliminate because they have been nominated before by other bloggers. But, even still, I found myself with a legal pad filled with the names of blogs I love. I wish I could nominate them all. (For example, my friends over at the NYT Most Notable Blog all have wonderful, thinking sites – and I love discussing books with them).

So after hemming and hawing, and worrying I might hurt someone’s feelings if I didn’t choose them, I finally whittled my list down to five (drum roll, please!!!):

1.  Ariel at Sycorax Pine (aka: Por of Tour) is the brainchild of the NYT Most Notable Blog – a place to discuss books from the challenge I started over here. Her main site is filled with thoughtful essays, book reviews and observations of life.

2.  A Reader’ Journal, crafted by Booklogged, is the place to go if you love a good challenge. Her zest for reading and ability to bring the book bloggers out in force is unmatched by anyone else in the blogosphere!

3.  Evaberry’s blog is simply beautiful. She’s an artist with a camera. Her photos always make me smile. I especially like how they all tell a story of some sort (check out these).

4.  Logophilia is a new blog I’ve just discovered. This writer and reader from  Switzerland definitely makes me think. Anyone with a 10 year reading plan that includes Plato, Aristotle and Shakespeare (among other heavy hitters) deserves a Thinking Blogger Award!

5.  I find myself living vicariously through the words of The Traveller over at Around the World in 100 Books. Her blog has expanded my horizons, made me dream of foreign lands and added to my ever growing pile of books to-be-read.

So there it is – the five blogs that make me think. Thanks again, Nancy, for nominating me for this award!

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