Saturday, 5 April 2014

The Thaw

Foreword Reviews have published a review of Ólafur Gunnarsson's latest collection of short stories. The stories are in English, translated by the author:
For all its thought-provoking content, the translation is uneven: “The nurse was tending to the child tenderly,” could have been rendered using a verb and an adjective that do not share the same root, for example. Likewise, it would be unlikely that a seven-year-old character would refer to his class art display as an “exhibition.” However, at other times, the translation fits with the story and showcases the author’s way with words, as in this description of an airplane accident: “And like a black goose that had been shot, the enormous plane crash-landed on the gravel airfield.” Or this ironic phrase that expresses a role reversal of a father and his terminally ill daughter: “[She] sat there in her wheelchair like a solemn old woman expressing her approval of her well-behaved grandson.”
Overall, in this elegant collection, Gunnarsson’s stories succeed.

2 comments:

  1. This review totally misses the art of Gunnarsson's stories. The stories carry their weight with skill and the shock of the unexpected. The human irony in each one forces the reader to see his own frailties reflected in the mirror of art. The cold isolation of Iceland is character in its own right, standing as a foil to less than perfect humans. If one can read these stories and be unaffected, he is either asleep or on the shy side of the intellectual scale.

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  2. Perhaps I've misunderstood something, but it seems to me that Jill Allen's review is only mildly critical with regard to one or two aspects of the translation, not in relation to the stories themselves, which she rightly considers brilliant. I think the anonymous commenter may have missed the point.

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