Thursday, September 26, 2013

Nina Schuyler

Nina Schuyler's first novel, The Painting, was a finalist for the Northern California Book Awards. It was also selected by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the Best Books of 2004, and dubbed a “fearless debut” by MSNBC and a “great debut” by the Rocky Mountain News. It’s been translated into Chinese, Portuguese, and Serbian.

Her short story, “The Bob Society,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poems, short stories and essays have appeared in ZYZZYVA, Santa Clara Review, Fugue, The Meadowland Review, The Battered Suitcase, and other literary journals. She reviews fiction for The Rumpus and The Children’s Book Review. She’s fiction editor at Able Muse.

Schuyler's new novel is The Translator.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading.  Her reply:
I’ve just started reading Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II, by Keith Lowe. Not long after World War II, my husband’s parents left Germany and came to America. His father was thirteen when he arrived in New York. His mother was twenty. A courageous act, to be sure, but I’ve always been curious: what did they leave behind? Lowe goes far beyond the known celebratory mood that accompanied the war’s end. He reveals ravaged landscapes, razed cities, a Europe where law and order were non-existent, where German civilians all over Europe were beaten, arrested and used as slave labor or murdered. Women who slept with German soldiers were stripped, shaved and paraded through the streets covered in tar. As Lowe writes, “Indeed, in some parts of Europe, ethnic tensions actually became worse.” It’s a fascinating historical account—the subject matter and the fact that it’s a history that is rarely told.

I’m re-reading Netherland, by Joseph O’Neill, about a Dutch man, Hans, who works as a banker in New York and is separated from his wife and young boy, who are living in London. Alone, lonely, Hans plays cricket and forms an unlikely friendship with a cast of characters, including Chuck Ramkissoon, a Trinidadian, who shows the Dutch man the “other” America, populated by immigrants. Why re-read? First and foremost, O’Neill’s prose. O’Neill writes elegant sentences, laced with metaphor and rhythm and sounds. One of Han’s friends can no longer bear “the masculine details of his life,” and Han’s young son wears “train-infested underpants.” And there’s New York with its “sobbing escort of police motorcycles” and “all this garbage of light.” Then there is the game of cricket, which becomes the perfect action/symbol for this book, as O’Neill carefully layers it with meaning, so much so, that by the end, we see it as standing for ethics and, as the embodiment of a melting pot—that is, the American dream.
Visit Nina Schuyler's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Translator.

--Marshal Zeringue