LONGLISTED FOR THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE
People say 'I'm sorry' all the time when it can mean both 'I'm sorry I hurt you' and 'I'm sorry someone else did something I have nothing to do with'. It's like the English language gave up on trying to find a word for sympathy which wasn't also the word for guilt.
Swedish immigrant Kristin won't talk about the Project growing inside her. Her Brazilian-born Scottish boyfriend Ciaran won't speak English at all; he is trying to immerse himself in a Swedish sprakbad language bath, to prepare for their future, whatever the fick that means. Their Edinburgh flat is starting to feel very small.
As this young couple is forced to confront the thing that they are both avoiding, they must reckon with the bigger questions of the world outside, and their places in it.
|Publication date:||11th February 2021|
|Author:||Jessica Gaitán Johannesson|
|Primary Genre||Literary Fiction|
'One of the gentlest and most patient, humane, and quirky things I have read in a long time ... Hugely original.' -- Niamh Campbell, author of This Happy 'Unique and playful.' - Foyles
'How We Are Translated is the most contemporary of novels; set somehow both in the now and in the distant past; in one city that could be many cities, and in two different languages, though also in defiance of language, with as much focus on the silences between words as the words themselves. It's a novel that maintains just the right balance of oddity, intimacy and illumination. It's a novel that anyone interested in the future of the English novel needs to read!' -- Sara Baume, author of Spill Simmer Falter Wither
'With echoes of Ali Smith and George Saunders, How We Are Translated explores themes of identity and intimacy with admirable sensitivity and wit.' -- Julianne Pachico, author of The Anthill
'How We Are Translated is a layered work about home, language, barriers, and belonging. Johannesson's unusual and refreshing prose crackles with truth - burning along beautifully.' -- Alice Bishop, author of A Constant Hum
'Our bodies and languages are made new to us again through Jessica Gaitan Johannesson's wild and playful novel. Laying bare the absurdity of the idea of a common tongue, she takes us on an adventure through private and public languages - those which ebb and flow between lovers or arise out of necessity in a workplace obsessed with authenticity. How We Are Translated gets at the heart of how language holds us, tears at us, and can bring us close in spite of, or because of, its inevitable imperfections.' -- Saskia Vogel, author of Permission
'A novel brimming with ideas and promise.' -- Lucy Knight - The Sunday Times
'Jessica Gaitan Johannesson has a very fresh voice that packs everything with so much new meaning that you won't think about language or communication the same way again ... I've never read anything quite like How We Are Translated before, but I very much hope that Gaitan Johannesson will follow her debut with more of the same.' - Shiny New Books
'An incredibly creative, entertaining and thought-provoking novel ... fizzing with ideas, wry humour and linguistic contradictions.' -- Nic Bottomley - Bath Life
'A novel that you might end up reading in one sitting ... this is writing with breathing space, with room for the ever-shifting spectrum of life.' -- Saskia Hayward and Matthew Leigh - Bath Magazine
'Eccentric, but likeable ... In Gaitan Johannesson's novel, Swedish words and phrases appear in one column with their English translation in another ... The innovation is effective. The way a foreign word looks, together with its literal translation, seems to tell us something specific, not only about another culture but about humanity generally.' -- Miranda France - TLS
'This is an excellent book for those who love Edinburgh, the oddities of language, and other people's drama. One of the best books that I have read recently. It is full of moments which would be pivotal in anyone's life and they are described with the kind of dry self-deprecation I can't help but adore.' -- Cecilie - The Portobello Bookshop