Julie Wark (Translation)
Penguin Books, 2016
Audience: Adults, Older Teens
When Samuel, a lonely linguistics lecturer, wakes up on New Year’s Day, he is convinced that the year ahead will bring nothing more than passive verbs and un-italicized moments—until an unexpected visitor slips into his Barcelona apartment and refuses to leave. The appearance of Mishima, a stray, brindle-furred cat, leads Samuel from the comforts of his favorite books, foreign films, and classical music to places he’s never been (next door) and to people he might never have met (his neighbor Titus, with whom he’s never exchanged a word). Even better, Mishima leads him back to the mysterious Gabriela, whom he thought he’d lost long before.
In the spirit of The Solitude of Prime Numbers and The Guest Cat, Love in Lowercase is a charming and uplifting novel about how one man, thanks to a persistent cat-turned-catalyst, awakens to the importance of the little things in life—and discovers that sometimes love is hiding in the smallest characters.
I was determined to have time to read Love in Lowercase because it was originally written in Spanish, took place in Barcelona, and was translated into English. So interesting! As a translation student, I notice when something sounds funny and judge subtitles (which apparently normal people don’t care about.) So I had a critical eye on the translation as I was reading, and I only saw one or two awkward spots in the whole novel. Pretty impressive! WAY better than the translation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
The story itself was sweet and quiet. Some might find it boring, and I wasn’t super interested in the characters. Patient, older teens will enjoy the romance and the beautiful setting. I don’t think they’ll identify with it, but it’s an appropriate adult book for them to read. Overall, I’m glad I read it, but it wasn’t my favorite.