Fremd Im Eigenen Leben

Fremd im Eigenen Leben

I read again through a few hundred pages of trivial literature, but it wasn’t not too worthwhile this time. It was the first one for several years, since my studies curbed my appetite for books unrelated to seminars. My wife usually starts reading something and I jump on the wagon and join her. In this case, we’ve read a book by Chang-Rae Lee, A Gesture Life in its German translation, Fremd im Eigenen Leben. My English is far from being free from errors, but I’m certain that the translator either didn’t have much time or was incompetent. On the first few pages already you get strangely translated words (false friends), throughout the whole book I never had the feeling that the translation was close to the original… somehow… bumpy, inaccurate. The lector also must have been in a hurry, the number of grammar and spelling errors was telling. The story itself was interesting, though, verbose at times, with a predictable character developement. On the bright side, that’s not to say that the characters weren’t intruiging, the relation to reality, a Zainichi in the Japanese Imperial Army is a tantalizing foundation for a story, but the execution was surprisingly uninspired – the author won the PEN/Hemingway Award for another book. Maybe it’s the translation, maybe my expectations were too high. If you’re looking for information about Japan’s war history and the notorios Comfort Women system, better turn to Yoshimi Yoshiaki or Buruma.

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