03 February 2009

Catching snakes. They're tricky little devils.

Having wound up with Yates for the time being (I might try Young Hearts Crying or A Good School later down the road), I'm working on Snake Catcher, by Naiyer Masud (tr. Muhammad Umar Memon). I picked it out 1. because I found it on the bottom of a stack of titles to be returned after I'd already returned the other titles by that publisher (rrrr. We have a less stack-intensive system now), and 2. it's translated from Urdu, and I've never read anything translated from Urdu. (A while back I counted up the translated books I own: 17 Japanese, 8 German, 7 Latin, 6 Homeric/Attic Greek, 4 French, 3 each Italian and Russian, one each Spanish, Turkish, Norwegian, Danish, Arabic, Polish, medieval Icelandic, and Indonesian (which totally isn't a language. Javanese?). Now I'm idly collecting tales from languages I've never read anything from: besides Snake Catcher, there's Burmese, Portuguese, and Farsi on the stack.)
I say "working on," though, because man is this book opaque. Surreal's not the word--I think the term's overused--but honestly I'm not sure what's going on, what these stories are "about." They seem to live in barren spaces, and time doesn't go forward or back; it's a kind of urgent stasis. I'm not sure what to do with it.

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