The Translator's Bride

The Translator's Bride


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At the start of The Translator's Bride, the Translator's bride has left him. But if he can only find a way to buy a small house, maybe he can win her back . . . These are the obsessive thoughts that pervade the Translator's mind as he walks around an unnamed city in 1920, trying to figure out how to put his life back together. His employers aren’t paying him, he’s trying to survive a woman’s unwanted advances, and he’s trying to make the best of his desperate living conditions. All while he struggles with his own mind and angry and psychotic ideas, filled with longing and melancholy. Darkly funny, filled with acidic observations and told with a frenetic pace, The Translator’s Bride is an incredible ride—whether you’re a translator or not!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781940953953
Publisher: Open Letter
Publication date: 08/20/2019
Pages: 150
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

João Reis born in 1985, is a Portuguese writer and a literary translator of Scandinavian languages (Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Icelandic). He studied philosophy and has lived in Portugal, Norway, Sweden, and the UK, having worked in several different occupations, from book publisher to kitchen chef. He has written various short stories published in digital format or zines, and his first major work is his novel The Translator’s Bride. Though still an emerging author, Reis’s work has already been compared to that of Hamsun and Kafka, and represents a literary style unseen in contemporary Portuguese writing.

Sónia Oliveira was born in Luanda, in 1972. She studied Portuguese and English Literature and Translation, at Universidade Nova de Lisboa (FCSH), and Portsmouth University. She's worked as a freelance translator, an editorial coordinator for EXPO ’98, Lisbon World Expositon, and in a renowned design studio. For the last ten years she has been translating for major Portuguese publishing houses, as well as for a number of film festivals, such as IndieLisboa, Doclisboa, and MOTELx.

Read an Excerpt

My return trip is sad, rain falls relentlessly and I stick a hand out of the window, the tram moves slowly, someone crosses the rails right in front of it, there’s shouting and swearing, these people are so tiresome, I bring my hand to my face, get it wet in a disgusting fashion, the woman in front of me turns her head away, there’s nothing else she can do, my face is damp, maybe it is inappropriate to wet one’s face in front of a lady one doesn’t know from Adam, I know nothing about that, the tram heads off again, outside a woman carrying loads of net bags, she picks a broken umbrella up from the ground while she curses, surely she would like the tram driver to take responsibility for that, he might as well pay her for the damage, she screams and shouts so much that I can still hear her as we move forward. She’s right of course, it wasn’t her fault, and if we take into account that the accident wasn’t caused by chance, we’d have to hold the tram driver responsible, that asshole didn’t break on time, the prick, the pervert, if it were him behind the ticket office window he’d steal from the blind without flinching, won’t admit the damage he has caused, the scoundrel.

Yet, the tram heads off, the scoundrel is driving it, that is true, the rain doesn’t relent, I feel sad, going to the pier didn’t make me feel any better, the weight on my stomach got worse, the little woman in front of me has a very tempting, tiny little nose, I feel an urge to nibble it, yes, it’s a radish, how I would like to bite it, hear it crack under my teeth, lovely, marvelous, I wonder if she would mind me having a go, will she, or maybe not, my mouth is drenched in saliva, I’ve always had this problem, I produce too much saliva, again she turns her head away, she’s a lady, seen from the side the tiny nose is also a lovely radish, but, for God’s sake, this is obscene, no doubt, what am I doing leaning forward, almost touching her knees, my mouth open, idiot, I’m a real twat! Ladies of this kind shouldn’t be approached so rudely, open-mouthed, saliva pouring down my chin, what a sorry sight, the nerve one must have to present himself like that to a lady, women of this kind shouldn’t be on a tram in the first place, no, they should only be transported in calèches drawn by the finest horses, or even in one of the increasing number of vehicles that circulate in the city, with the nauseating smoke released from their exhaust pipes stifling the sweet smell of equine dung, as I will be able to remember for the past months spent at my nan’s home in a certain future that should be close, given the fast pace of progress, only when these fine ladies are seated in these vehicles where they truly belong, the chauffeur speeding on the curbs taking them to the theater, the opera, they hold the door open for the ladies, they master chivalry as true professionals, a genuine politeness, these ladies walk with delicate steps, they climb the theater stairway, they’re greeted with the utmost graciousness, they shouldn’t have to lean on other passengers, wobbling from one side to the other, the little woman’s bag opens, heads of garlic spread all over the tram floor, a toothless fidgety boy laughs, he is not the slightest bit ashamed of his mouth, the little prick laughs when he sees the heads of garlic rolling on the floor, the woman tries to gather them, she can’t avoid sensing the reek of sweat coming from the passengers on the aisle seats. What a disgrace, the things we see on public transport are simply outrageous, nobody bothers to get down and help the woman pick up the heads of garlic, I would do it myself were it not for the risk of being misinterpreted, I’ve had my share already with the open mouth drenched in saliva scene, what would the passengers think if I bent forward to help her, finding myself face to face with her, how mortifying, no question about it, I would help her though if that didn’t taint her honor to these bunch of brutes, the smart-ass is still laughing, he’s got one of those faces that generates a desire for violence, I’d smack it all over, what a little idiot, I bet he sticks snot under his school chair, shameless twat, no, I can’t help the lady, society doesn’t understand selfless helpfulness, and I feel too sad to do it, I’m shattered since I returned from the pier, where I saw her depart.

The ship set sail and she didn’t say goodbye, she didn’t utter a word, she didn’t even make a gesture, she must have forgotten to do it, it’s only natural, it’s perfectly normal, one doesn’t go on a trip like this every day, it’s difficult to go aboard in these conditions, in this weather, yeah, there’s nothing odd about it, how could she hold her hand up and wave at me? When the wind was such that she could hardly hold her umbrella going up the steps, followed by so many hasty passengers that couldn’t be bothered with goodbyes, yes, how? But why am I thinking about these things when there’s nothing I can do about it now, cannot even help the woman pick up the heads of garlic, she still hasn’t managed to pick them all up, bloody hell, this is too much, does she suffer from myopia of some sort or is she just clumsy? Or, even worse, is she trying to maintain this impossible situation for longer, just to fumble about and touch the passenger’s feet? What a pervert, this tram is full of animals, it’s grotesque, that kid doesn’t seem to close his toothless mouth, he keeps laughing like an idiot, and this woman crawls on the floor, chasing heads of garlic that she never picks up, God almighty, how did I find myself in this den of bestiality, and God only knows who else is in here, I should ring the bell immediately and get out, explain the situation to the tram driver, but how could I do that when he is himself a scoundrel of the worst kind, a shameful destroyer of umbrellas, of course, how could I expect to find myself amongst civilized people if the driver himself is an animal, what torment, I don’t want to turn my head and see what surrounds me, I’m afraid of what I might see, were it not for this heavy rain I’d leave immediately, the walk would be good for me, it would help me forget that sad goodbye, if she’d at least waved at me, given me a smile, thrown me a kiss after touching her fingers with her lips, then I’d feel happier, I wouldn’t have to contemplate this sad spectacle, this freak show.

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