How We Are Translated

a novel

Jessica Gaitán Johannesson author


Publisher:Scribe Publications

Published:13th Jan '22


Available to order, but very limited on stock - if we have issues obtaining a copy, we will let you know.

This paperback is available in another edition too:

How We Are Translated cover


Do you ever feel like you’re not speaking the same language?

Swedish immigrant Kristin won’t talk about her pregnancy. Her Brazilian-born Scottish boyfriend Ciaran won’t speak English at all; he is trying to immerse himself in a språkbad or ‘language bath’, covering their Edinburgh apartment in post-it notes to teach himself Swedish.

As this young couple is forced to confront the thing that they are both avoiding, they must reckon with the bigger questions of the world outside, and their places in it.

‘A novel brimming with ideas and promise.’

-- Lucy Knight * The Sunday Times *

‘One of the gentlest and most patient, humane, and quirky things I have read in a long time ... Hugely original.’

-- Niamh Campbell, author of This Happy

‘Unique and playful.’

* Foyles *

‘I really really loved How We Are Translated ... so brilliant on language, communication, distance, the ways we speak past/around/beyond each other.’

-- Nell Stevens

How We Are Translated is the most contemporary of novels; set somehow both in the now and in the distant past; in one city that could be many cities, and in two different languages, though also in defiance of language, with as much focus on the silences between words as the words themselves. It’s a novel that maintains just the right balance of oddity, intimacy, and illumination. It’s a novel that anyone interested in the future of the English novel needs to read!’

-- Sara Baume, author of Spill Simmer Falter Wither

‘With echoes of Ali Smith and George Saunders, How We Are Translated explores themes of identity and intimacy with admirable sensitivity and wit.’

-- Julianne Pachico, author of The Anthill

How We Are Translated is a layered work about home, language, barriers, and belonging. Johannesson’s unusual and refreshing prose crackles with truth — burning along beautifully.’

-- Alice Bishop, author of A Constant Hum

‘Our bodies and languages are made new to us again through Jessica Gaitán Johannesson’s wild and playful novel. Laying bare the absurdity of the idea of a common tongue, she takes us on an adventure through private and public languages — those which ebb and flow between lovers or arise out of necessity in a workplace obsessed with authenticity. How We Are Translated gets at the heart of how language holds us, tears at us, and can bring us close in spite of, or because of, its inevitable imperfections.’

-- Saskia Vogel, author of Permission

‘Jessica Gaitán Johannesson has a very fresh voice that packs everything with so much new meaning that you won’t think about language or communication the same way again … I’ve never read anything quite like How We Are Translated before, but I very much hope that Gaitán Johannesson will follow her debut with more of the same.’

* Shiny New Books *

‘An incredibly creative, entertaining, and thought-provoking novel … fizzing with ideas, wry humour, and linguistic contradictions.’

-- Nic Bottomley * Bath Life *
‘A novel that you might end up reading in one sitting … this is writing with breathing space, with room for the ever-shifting spectrum of life.’ -- Saskia Hayward and Matthew Leigh * Bath Magazine *

‘Eccentric, but likeable ... In Gaitán Johannesson’s novel, Swedish words and phrases appear in one column with their English translation in another ... The innovation is effective. The way a foreign word looks, together with its literal translation, seems to tell us something specific, not only about another culture but about humanity generally.’

-- Miranda France * TLS *

‘This is an excellent book for those who love Edinburgh, the oddities of language, and other people’s drama. One of the best books that I have read recently. It is full of moments which would be pivotal in anyone’s life and they are described with the kind of dry self-deprecation I can't help but adore.’

-- Cecilie * The Portobello Bookshop *

‘Johannesson's tender and madcap debut explores themes of family, history, and language [with] a spiritedness reminiscent of the work of Elizabeth McKenzie … a delightful romp.’

* Publishers Weekly *

‘Concepts of ethnicity, intimacy, and identity are woven into Jessica Gaitán Johannesson’s quirky, contemplative novel … Poignant, perceptive, and clever, How We Are Translated is a novel about the human beings who exist beyond ideals of diversity, and about the emotional implications of language.’

* Foreword, starred review *


-- Alastair Mabbott * The Herald *

How We Are Translated is a gentle and meditative look at relationships—romantic, cultural, familial. Gaitán Johannesson creates a soft world populated by simultaneously mundane and quirky characters. This is a tender story handled with soft, deft hands.’

-- Laura Graveline * Brazos Bookstore *

‘Fans of Anne Carson and Maggie Nelson will like How We Are Translated. This is a beautiful book, both inside and out … a meditation on self: how a self is both lost and found in language and translation, and how a self is both lost and found in the body and all the body, especially the female body, can and can’t do.’

-- Samantha * Bear Pond Boo

  • Short-listed for Australian Book Design Awards for Best Designed Literary Fiction Cover 2022 (Australia)
  • Long-listed for Desmond Elliott Prize 2021 (UK)

ISBN: 9781914484186

Dimensions: 198mm x 129mm x 15mm

Weight: unknown

240 pages