Monday, 4 August 2008

Back Again

I'm back after two weeks of fun in the sun. I left my thinking cap firmly at my desk and didn't read a single German book. But even my secret vice, that most magnificent bastion of housewifely brain-fodder that is the Sainsbury's Magazine, didn't let me forget about German-language literature. For tucked in among Jamie Oliver's Take on Tapas, Mind and Body Secrets from Olympic Athletes and Sarah's Top Tips for Tomatoes was this little gem of an unexpected review:

Best Beach Reads. Lie back and relax - we've found thrillers, mysteries, family sagas and feel-good fiction that will keep you enthralled throughout those lazy days of summer...

An imaginative boy's life changes when war comes to town in the wonderful debut How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, §12.99) by Bosnian-born Sasa Stanisic (translated by Anthea Bell). First he and the other town children are herded into a cellar; then his parents whisk him away in the middle of the night.

Wahey! This is the future of fiction in translation! Reviewed in supermarket magazines! With the translator named! Deemed perfect summer reading rather than difficult and intellectual! Read by housewives in between a session of Olympic sit-ups and preparing Rick Stein's meze-style menu! Just think, folks, in ten years' time this will be normal - the lollipop lady will dip into Elfriede Jelinek's latest eBook whenever there's a lull in traffic, the man down the greengrocer's will discuss Faustian motifs with you while you squeeze his peaches, and Katie Price will have a PhD in comparative literature by then too. Or maybe twenty years, tops.

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