How We Are Translated

Jessica Gait%C3%A1n Johannesson.. Scribe, $16 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-950354-82-5
Johannesson's tender and madcap debut explores themes of family, history, and language as it follows Swedish-born Kristin, 24, through a single hectic week of her life in Edinburgh. She's not sure if she is pregnant, and is putting off finding out. At the same time, her partner, Ciaran, who was born in Brazil but adopted as a small child by a Scottish woman, has surprised Kristin with his latest obsession: immersing himself in a "Språkbad," or language bath, to learn Kristin's native language-by bingeing on Bergman movies, covering their flat in vocabulary Post-It notes, and using a Swedish cab driver as a practice partner-all of which Kristin greets with dismay. Perhaps Kristin's dread of Swedish is due to her day job as a Viking reenactor at the National Museum of Immigration, where she can only speak Swedish and must pretend she does not understand English. Many bizarre characters emerge, and a lot happens over the course of the week, but not everything comes together. What keeps things moving is Johannesson's focus on the couple's love and heritage through the powers and the pitfalls of language, giving things a spiritedness reminiscent of the work of Elizabeth McKenzie. While uneven at times, on balance it's a delightful romp. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 10/13/2021
Release date: 02/01/2022
Genre: Fiction
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