Arnaldur Indriðason (If you want a review check out my Just Read page). I received it as part of a job lot of freebies for my e-reader and picked it because it was about Iceland, a place I have visited several times and love.
It was interesting to read about a different culture in the words of someone who actually belongs to it, but it got me wondering. Just how much of a flavour of place is lost in translation? It was, after all, translated by English people, even if they do speak Icelandic.
As an aside: Modern Icelandic is virtually identical to Old Norse, the language of the Sagas, and therefore any Icelander who can read has direct access to their history and legends. It must help with a sense of identity and place and provide a fast link to the past. (Imagine being able to read Chaucer - or even Shakespeare - as easily as Agatha Christie or J K Rowling.)
What I learned from the book about modern-day Reykjavik is very different from the image presented to tourists, (in much the same way that Ian Rankin's tales of Edinburgh probably aren't popular with the Scottish Tourist Board, in spite of how many people visit the city to drink in Rebus's favourite bars) but that was because of the subject matter, rather than the descriptions. I recognised several locations immediately and had clear pictures of them in my mind as I read.
Do you read much translated fiction? Do you think that you have missed anything as a result? Can we ever have a true understanding of an author's intent if we rely on a translator's interpretation?