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Multiples: 12 Stories in 18 Languages by 61 Authors [Hardcover]

Adam Thirlwell
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

1 Aug 2013
Like Chinese whispers, the rules of this literary game are simple: the first writer translates an unknown story into English, which a second writer then translates into a different language, and a third translates back into English, and so on, down the line. As the stories are told and retold, out of English and in again, they are transformed, twisted and turned into something new. Featuring an all-star international line-up of writers from Zadie Smith to Alejandro Zambra, via Jeffrey Eugenides, Laurent Binet, Javier Marias, David Mitchell, Colm Toibin, Etgar Keret and Sheila Heti, this collection is pure literary entertainment. Playful, provocative and wilfully inventive, Multiples asks fascinating questions about the relationship between a translation and a version, about the art of storytelling, and about the way that our individual linguistic choices reflect our shared cultural prejudices. Here, we see not so much what is lost in translation, but what is found.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Portobello Books Ltd (1 Aug 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846275377
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846275371
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 16.2 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 341,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


A mischievous sortie into linguistic mutability. There's plenty of linguistic fun to be had here. --James Urquhart, Independent on Sunday

There is a moving case of translation loss in the book Adam Thirlwell has edited, Multiples, but the book is also full of gains. --Michael Wood, London Review of Books

A brilliant piece of mischief. I can imagine dipping into this delightful compendium for months and years to come. For all its parlour-game charms, it is subversive at heart, challenging just about everything we hold true about authenticity, originality and creative genius. --The Times

Exquisite --The Observer

Too often translation is discussed in terms of loss. Multiples, refreshingly, does the opposite: it asks, instead, what is it that survives? The outcome is this impossible, fascinating book. The whole thing is big, preposterously ambitious and pleasingly silly. But meaningful, too. To anyone interested in translation - or perhaps more pertinently, in the effects of style - each failure is something new, something fascinating, that is gained. --Guardian

Exquisite --The Observer

Playful… stories are told and retold from English into other languages and back, leading to happy accidents to both amuse and confuse. --Monocle

Exquisite --The Observer

Fascinating, mischievous, full of imagination and sheer chutzpah. There is something exhilarating about the brio and virtuosity on display in Multiples. --Independent

Exquisite --The Observer

A wonderful idea. A fascinating collection of stories in 18 langugages and featuring translations by fiction superstars such as Zadie Smith and JM Coetzee. ***** --The Lady

Wonderfully ingenious. --Spectator

You don't need to be a polyglot to take pleasure from Multiples. The minimum requirement is a curiosity about language and the writing craft. --Literary Review

Wonderfully ingenious. --Spectator

'Fascinating... the process is almost as dizzying to read as it is to read about; however, the fun in comparing the first translated version with the last is considerable' --Irish Times

Wonderfully ingenious. --Spectator

About the Author

ADAM THIRLWELL was born in London in 1978. He is the author of the novels Politics and The Escape, and Kapow!, a novella, as well as a book about translated and international novels, Miss Herbert, which won a Somerset Maugham award. His work has been translated into 30 languages.

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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting idea 2 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An interesting idea, but one whose execution doesn't quite come off. The subtleties will be much more amusing and instructive to a competent polyglot. A-level French is not enough.
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