Facebook fora and book reviews

My complimentary copy, as a result of a Facebook comment.
My complimentary copy, as a result of a Facebook comment.

I love the fact that translator fora exist on Facebook. I only became aware of this phenomenon this year. Through these fora, I now have contact with people I encountered years ago on a translator mailing list, fellow members of ProZ whom I shall probably never meet in the real world, translators I have met at conferences, and many others.

I love these interactions precisely because they are less formal, and more like we would behave if we were all in the same room having a chat. Other professional fora are great, too, but I get the sense that we all have our professional guards up, and many are too afraid to say much for fear of disapprobation from other translators.

I have no such fear since publishing my cheekily short autobiography, Scatterling, for which none of my friends have yet written their promised review! Facebook does not reveal all, and I really do not care if people I have never met look at a photo of me taken three decades ago, or whatever the case may be.

Any reservations I may once have had have been far outweighed by the positive interactions which would never have happened had I not widened my Facebook net.

For one, I would not have received a free copy of The Green and the Red, a charming tale written by Armand Chauvel, and translated from the French by Elisabeth Lyman. The author, who lives in Madrid, was charming enough to sign my copy, with the tasteful addition of a little note in Portuguese. On a separate piece of notepaper, he asked whether I would be kind enough to review the book once I had read it.

All this is interesting from a marketing point of view, in that the translator has been instrumental in publicising the book; all possible contacts have been tapped in order to promote the book. It all seems so natural, and makes so much sense.

I have published by review on the book’s Amazon page, and since I did not actually purchase the book, I seem unable to do so on Goodreads.

Here is what I said:

“‘Uh… I am allergic to ham,’ she mumbled, embarrassed.”

The very first page of The Green and the Red sets the tone for the rest of this light-hearted, humorous tale of romance which pits pork producers against vegetarians in the small French town of Rennes. By mid-way through the book, the plot has gathered pace to the extent that finishing it quickly become imperative. This is a pity, since it prevents the reader from truly savouring the excellent vegetarian and vegan recipes seamless intertwined in the narrative, all creative ideas of Léa, the owner of La Dame Verte restaurant, and a true blue dame verte herself. Every possible snippet of information and some recent statistics on vegetarian matters are cleverly woven into the story but in no way detract from the reader’s overall enjoyment. As a one-time vegetarian myself for six years, I thoroughly enjoyed this additional thread coursing through the tale, which has the best of all possible endings. Elisabeth Lyman, who translated the original French novel by Armand Chauvel into English, fully deserves to have her name in print on the front cover beneath that of the author as well as a whole page devoted to her biography at the back of the book. My view as a fellow translator in the same language pair is that the translation was seamless; impeccable – and an entertaining read which will have you smiling throughout.


I am neither vegetarian, nor interested in this sort of romance,  but it really is a great book to read on a train or a bus. If you are interested in other things translators write, you could wander over to Muriel Vasconcellos’ autobiographical account, Finding My Invincible Summer, which I felt compelled to review after reading what this prolific translator had to say about her life.






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