In the shrewd, penetrating spirit of Anne Carson and Rachel Cusk, brilliant newcomer Polly Barton explores the disorienting art of language in Japan. "Witty, exuberant, also melancholy, and crowded with intelligence" (Rivka Galchen), Fifty Sounds is a genre-defying meditation on language from an electric new voice. When Polly Barton moved to a remote island in Japan at twenty-one, she did not anticipate the total sensory bombardment: "It is a possession, a bedevilment, a physical takeover." Divided into fifty onomatopoeic Japanese phrases, this elegantly written and deeply introspective memoir recounts her path to grasping the basics and becoming not only a literary translator but fluent in one of the most difficult vernaculars in the world. From min-min, the sound of air screaming, to hi'sori, the sound of harboring masochist tendencies, Barton renders these foreign sounds to reflect on the meaning of being an outsider, cultural conformity, and even the transformative philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein. A classic in the making, Fifty Sounds unearths the distinctly human act of learning to communicate and think in a new way.
Author: Polly Barton
Publisher: Norton Young Readers
Category: Biography & Autobiography
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