Kate Briggs (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
Perhaps a bizarre trait in a monoglot such as my shameful self, this, but recently I’ve become increasingly interested in literary translations: their rules, aesthetics and politics, which covers a lot of ground on all those fronts. Briggs does a compelling job of demystifying this world, hidden to most and often unsung (translators usually do well to get a credit on a book jacket). Her specialist subject is French philosopher Roland Barthes, whose lectures she has translated; it’s these experiences, and Barthes’ writing, that form the backbone of the book, but familiarity with his work is not required to gain insight into translation’s peculiarities. This Little Art is curiously structured, its seven chapters sub-sub-divided into dozens of swift observatory bursts of a page, or even a sentence; this informality lends it added warmth.
Price: £12.99. Info: www.fitzcarraldoeditions.com (NG)