"The Translator's Bride" by Joao Reis; Open Letter (117 pages, $14.95)

"The Translator's Bride" by Joao Reis; Open Letter (117 pages, $14.95) (Open Letter)

"The Translator's Bride" by João Reis; Open Letter (117 pages, $14.95)


If you're sometimes suspicious of novels-in-translation, wondering if you're getting the voice of the original writer or the translator, then "The Translator's Bride" may be for you.

The comic novella was translated from its original Portuguese by the guy who wrote it, João Reis, so any question of authorial intent should be settled. (Heck, he may even have improved it when he took a second crack at it.) The first-person narrator also is an unreliable one, whose bride has just left him for reasons that quickly become apparent: He's a whiny creep.

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Almost all of "Bride" consists of the main character moaning, sometimes for cause (he has not been paid for a substantial work that's about to make a publishing-world splash) and sometimes because he's a pill (he doesn't like ugly people, which seems to be almost everyone).

Reis has fun exaggerating the courtly manners of the society depicted in "Bride," with his protagonist spewing a stream of politely insincere compliments that would make Anthony Trollope proud. But the main character's nonstop whining does grow wearying over the course of this brief, droll novel, in which I suspect there's an element of class satire that has gotten lost in translation.

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