At the start of The Translator's Bride, the Translator's bride has left him. But if he can only find a way to buy a small house, maybe he can win her back... These are the obsessive thoughts that pervade the Translator's mind as he walks around an unnamed city in 1920, trying to figure out how to put his life back together. All while he struggles with his own mind and angry and psychotic ideas, filled with longing and melancholy.
...melancholy yet comic ... Long, rushing paragraphs flow along with the narrator’s exasperation as he ventures from his boardinghouse in search of work and payment for translations already completed ... The circuitous absorption of The Translator’s Bride is sustained by its novella-like structure and dark, gleaming humor. Reis’s direct translation of his work from Portuguese to English adds an element of personal irony and intimacy as well. The language is beautiful, mordant, and tragic.
While the plot and action of the novel are minimal, the vivid interiority of the narrator brings his world alive. While the strict practice of the translator’s real-time perspective could come off as tiresome in less-skilled hands, Reis brings out the humor of his character’s cyclical thoughts ... Reis has garnered comparisons to Kafka, and although The Translator’s Bride is less surreal, the influence is evident. It is Kafkaesque in the sense of the continual meandering of existence ... The translator is stuck in the bureaucracy of his lost love, which may be the ultimate human condition.
If you’re sometimes suspicious of novels-in-translation, wondering if you’re getting the voice of the original writer or the translator, then The Translator’s Bride may be for you. The comic novella was translated from its original Portuguese by the guy who wrote it, João Reis, so any question of authorial intent should be settled ... Almost all of Bride consists of the main character moaning, sometimes for cause...and sometimes because he’s a pill ... Reis has fun exaggerating the courtly manners of the society depicted in Bride, with his protagonist spewing a stream of politely insincere compliments that would make Anthony Trollope proud. But the main character’s nonstop whining does grow wearying over the course of this brief, droll novel, in which I suspect there’s an element of class satire that has gotten lost in translation.