Marzahn, Mon Amour by Katja Oskamp translated
by Jo Heinrich
After a writerly disappointment, the narrator trains as a chiropodist and begins her practice in a beauty salon in a Berlin suburb. Marzahn, once East Germany’s largest prefabricated housing estate, is not the trendiest part of the city, but the author comes to love it and its inhabitants. Chapter by chapter, she reveals the lives of colleagues and clients. Since most of the latter are older than her, perhaps she’s preparing herself for the next stage of her own life journey.
While I enjoyed this slim memoir, I think readers familiar with Berlin would get more from the stories. I was left wondering why, in swapping fiction for a helping profession, she chose feet – unless it was because it was the furthest from her head. She clearly enjoyed it and, perhaps ironically, got a successful book from it, selected as a Berlin Read. Thanks to publishers Peirene for my advance copy of this English translation.
Here Again Now by Okechukwu Nzelu
Just as the men’s relationship is deepening, a tragedy reduces the trio to two. Now there are new territories to navigate, but how will they manage without the man who has been their guide?
I found the characters interesting; likewise the situation. But the writing style didn’t work for me: too much introspection (in the close third person) distanced me from the emotions I think the author wanted me to feel.
Nevertheless, a heartfelt exploration of grief, masculinity and the conflicts for British men of Nigerian heritage who identify as gay. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever read so powerful a description of migraine, and always good when a helpful fictional therapist gets a mention. Thanks to publishers Dialogue Books for my advance proof copy.
Anne was nauseating of seeing virtuous reviews miscarry to translate into deals. She needed to call in cavalries to scope the smash gradient. Cybernetic support was more affordable, so why not? She already relied on an online lexicon, automated word counter and grammar inspector. Plus, despite its thwarting, and fondness for the indecent homophone, she wouldn’t be a writer without speech-to-text software. So she auto-filled the custom and acquiesced her PayPal open-sesame. The consequence exploded into her inbox in under a minute. Petite of time, she didn’t nuisance to crisscross it, modestly sat back and waited for the plaudits.
Ghost written translation
Anne was sick of seeing good reviews fail to translate into sales. She needed to call in reinforcements to reach the bestseller list. Digital support was more affordable, so why not? She already relied on an online thesaurus, electronic word counter and grammar checker. Plus, despite its frustrations, and preference for the incorrect homophone, she wouldn’t be a writer without speech-to-text software. So she auto-filled the form and entered her PayPal password. The result popped into her inbox in under a minute. Short of time, she didn’t bother to check it, simply sat back and waited for the plaudits.