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Life From Elsewhere: Journeys Through World Literature. Book Review

June 3, 2016

Life from elsewhere

Life From Elsewhere: Journeys Through World Literature has been published through the Writers in Translation programme, which was established in 2005 with Bloomberg and supported by Arts Council England. It collects and champions the best literature from around the world. Key to the success of the programme is a substantial translation grant which makes it possible not only for new work from around the world to be enjoyed, but to also pay the often unsung heroes of this type of undertaking, the translators, properly for their work.

Although the theme of this collection is about the role of literature in society, from a wide range of viewpoints and nationalities, it is approached relatively loosely. The result is a set of essays from some very perceptive writers who really do get to the heart of the power of literature. There is also a palpable sense of passion and conviction, as well as great eloquence in these essays which manage to convey some quite complex concepts to bring home their message.

Certainly this is the type of book that can be dipped into repeatedly to study the writing style and enjoy the way words have been used to communicate ideas to a reader.

The biographical details of the authors, many of whom I had not heard of, were very useful, and in combination with the writing will encourage me to delve deeper into any translations of their work.

As always the translators of these essays should also not be forgotten as their invisible work has made for a smooth and enjoyable read. It is to be hoped that this will signal even more translations of great writing from authors who might not be heard of outside of their own country were it not for the use of skilled and perceptive translators.

Life From Elsewhere: Journeys Through World Literature was courtesy of Pushkin Press via NetGalley

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