Love Virtually: an epistolary novel for the 21st century

Love Virtually by Daniel Glattauer, translated by Jamie Bulloch and Katharina Bielenberg (MacLehose Press, 2012) is another book I’d been really keen to read for ages, and is the sort of thing I want to see more of in translation: a readable, non-pretentious, everyday kind of book. It has also done well, been widely reviewed, been a Radio 4 Afternoon Drama featuring David Tennant and Emilia Fox etc, so come on other publishers, what are you waiting for? There’s an audience out here!

Love VirtuallyIt begins by chance: Leo receives emails in error from an unknown woman called Emmi. Being polite he replies, and Emmi writes back. A few brief exchanges are all it takes to spark a mutual interest in each other, and soon Emmi and Leo are sharing their innermost secrets and longings. The erotic tension simmers, and it seems only a matter of time before they will meet in person. But they keep putting off the moment – the prospect both unsettles and excites them. And, after all, Emmi is happily married. Will their feelings for each other survive the test of a real-life encounter?

I found the book slightly disconcerting as I wasn’t always sure that I liked either of the characters very much and I sometimes felt unconvinced by the way they wrote to each other. I also felt very sorry for Emmi’s husband and family. All the same it was gripping and entertaining – both good qualities in my opinion. It’s similar to The People in the Photo in being epistolary so that the short sections keep things moving. I actually found it odd to have chapters as well, as the breaks seemed slightly arficial. And again, there are two translators’ voices, a husband and wife team this time. It’s more upbeat than The People in the Photo, though, funny in parts, sometimes romantic and sometimes very moving.

Now I’m very much on the look out for the sequel.

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About forwardtranslations

I'm a freelance literary translator from German and French to English. The title of my blog comes from Mary Schmich's description of reading: it struck home with me, and seems especially apt for translated fiction. Here are some of my musings on what I'm reading, re-reading, reading to my children, and translating.
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