SEVEN CIRCUMSTANCES

Original Book Reviews, Recommendations and Discussions

Girl in Translation, by Jean Kwok

Girl In Translation, by Jean Kwok

Girl In Translation, by Jean Kwok

(Riverhead Books, 2010) An old Czech proverb goes: You live a new life for every new language you speak – If you know only one language, you live only once.

This is precisely the problem when Kimberly Chang and her mother flee to New York from war-torn Hong Kong:- they cannot make a new life for themselves unless Kimberly masters English. Not only are they desperately poor, they are also marginalised and victimised because of their lack of English. Kimberly, who is smart as a whip, tells their story in a style so dry and factual that she seems as numbed by misery as a survivor of a concentration camp. This makes the moments when her enemies get their comeuppance worth waiting for and deliciously satisfying.