A daring new novel that "may be David Treuer's best book" (Charles Baxter)
He realizes he has discovered a document that could change his life forever.
Dr Apelles, Native American translator of Native American texts, lives a diligent existence. He works at a library and, in his free time, works on his translations. Without his realizing it, his world has become small. One day he stumbles across an ancient manuscript only he can translate. What begins as a startling discovery quickly becomes a vital questnot only to translate the document but to find love. Through the riddle of Dr Apelles's heart, The Translation of Dr Apelles explores the boundaries of human emotion, charts the power of the language to both imprison and liberate, and maps the true dimensions of the Native American experience. As Dr Apelles's quest nears its surprising conclusion, the novel asks the reader to speculate on whose power is greater: The imaginer or the imagined? The lover or the beloved?
In this brilliant mystery of letters in the tradition of Calvino, Borges, and Saramago, David Treuer excavates the persistent myths that belittle the contemporary Native American experience and lays bare the terrible power of the imagination.
The intertwining of two love stories results in a strangely compelling take on matters of the heart in Treuer's third novel (after The Hiawatha). Dr. Apelles, a Native American who translates Native American texts, works as a book classifier for RECAP (Research Collections and Preservations), a "prison for books" located near an unnamed American city. While at the local public library, Dr. Apelles finds a manuscript that he begins translating. The story-within-a-story is of Bimaadiz and Eta, sole surviving infants of separate villages wiped out by a devastating winter. Discovered by different men from the same tribe, the children are adopted by their saviors, reared together as friends and eventually fall in love. Dr. Apelles, while translating the story, realizes his life is unfulfilling, so he begins a love affair with a fellow book classifier, Campaspe, that parallels Bimaadiz's and Eta's. Treuer obscures time and place in both storylines, and though neither the plots nor characters are remarkable, the author's beautiful prose Flaubert in some places, Chekhov in others grabs and holds attention so well that even the narrative contrivances and unlikely coincidences don't diminish the pleasurable reading experience. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.