Editorial Reviews for The Task of the Translator

Editorial Reviews for The Task of the Translator

From Publishers Weekly

Overeducated and underemployed protagonists bottom out on stalled careers and foundering relationships in Hasak-Lowy’s intelligent collection. In the strongest stories, he locates the depressive slumps of his pained, emotionally true characters in a pointed critique of American culture—the alienation of late capitalism, the superficiality of mass media, the corrosive effects of consumerism and the national obsession with gluttony and dieting. A grad student cum journalist profiles an expensive weight-loss company in the wry “Will Power, Inc.” But when, for the piece, he retains a “diet escort” to forcibly prevent him from eating, he’s tempted to binge, and his body balloons. Hasak-Lowy artfully reveals layers of personal and national identity in the grim “On the Grounds of the Complex Commemorating the Nazis’ Treatment of the Jews,” about an Israeli ex-journalist working in the cafe at Yad Vashem who clashes with an American businessman over a stale pastry. The most ambitious story, “The End of Larry’s Wallet, ” weaves Larry’s personal struggle with a failed marriage and sick daughter with a critique of TV coverage of destruction on a near-unimaginable scale: 18 million dead in a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan. The collection’s more modest—and more mannered—stories feature alienated young men with estranged or deceased fathers. Though the selections are uneven, the collection’s best work indicates the arrival of a cogent new Jewish-American voice. Agent, Simon Lipskar. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Booklist

Newcomer Hasak-Lowy has a disarming style: pared-down, ineluctably male, confidingly first-person, and intelligently ironic. His characters are vexed and desperate; his stories are transparently structured, yet events escalate quickly and unpredictably. A job interview yields oddly therapeutic yet potentially damaging disclosures. A demoralized Israeli journalist ends up working as a snack-shop cashier at Jerusalem’s Holocaust memorial. Another floundering journalist gets overly involved in his investigation into a weight-watcher company that provides bodyguards to enforce its rules. In the tense yet darkly funny title story, a poseur finds himself playing the role of translator at a violent confrontation instigated by the Bosnian War. In this altogether powerful and provocative collection’s most far-reaching story, “The End of Larry’s Wallet,” a shattering tale about helplessness and the limits of empathy, one man’s life unravels against the backdrop of the confused, insipid, suddenly shockingly personal TV coverage of a nuclear “exchange” between India and Pakistan. Timely, perceptive, magnetic, and real in the way only fiction can be, Hasak-Lowy’s tales reflect the paradoxes of the global village.Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved –This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


“These are inventive, delightful stories by a startling new talent, easy in their modernity, classic in their authoritative tone, and secretly fitted with deep structures of irony and pity.”