A couple of weeks ago, I finally got around to finishing La Cucina degli Amori Impossibili by Roberto Perrone (loved it!) which meant that it was time to dig into a new Italian book, so I’ve since moved on to Entra nella mia Vita by Clara Sanchez. The familiar and haunting green cover aesthetic caught my eye, then I recognized the author’s name. I had read (& enjoyed!) her previous book–which had a similar cover design–Il Profumo delle Foglie di Limone with my Italian class in New York. You may be thinking, “Sanchez? That doesn’t sound like an Italian surname.” It’s not…she’s Spanish and her books were translated into Italian.
Reading a book in translation seems to be a touchy subject and I’ve gotten just a wee bit of flak for it. The reason: if I’m living in Italy and learning Italian, I should read books by Italian writers. I do see that side of the argument but to play devil’s advocate, do you remember that scene in A League of their Own when Shirley is reading aloud from Mae’s racy romance novel? Evelyn asks, “Mae! What are you giving her to read?” to which Mae (played by Madonna, I’d like to note!) responds, “What difference does it make? She’s reading!” Shirley was illiterate and learning how to read. Well, I have applied this same reasoning to reading Italian.
Learning the language is a consistently ongoing process, so if I wish to read something that wasn’t originally written in Italian, what difference does it make if I’m reading it in Italian translation? Especially if it’s a good translation that’s compatible with my language level? I’m still reading Italian, damn it! My teacher in New York chose Sanchez’s book for the class because even though it was a translation, it was well done and perfectly complemented the class’s level of Italian. The book was easy–but not too easy–and I completely understood the gist without having to go back and read things a second or third time. I don’t believe Il Profumo delle Foglie di Limone is available in English but if you can read Italian or Spanish, I strongly recommend it. I won’t give away too much of the plot, but it takes place in Costa Blanca, a Spanish Mediterranean town, where a group of former Nazis retreated after the war and involves two protagonists: Sandra, a young, pregnant lady who is befriended by an elderly married couple and Julian, an elderly man who survived imprisonment in Mauthausen, out for revenge/justice. Yup, it’s a page-turner.
I’m only a few pages into Entra nella mia Vita, but I’m certain that reading it–even though it’s Italian in translation–will not be to my detriment.