Over the last few months I have had so much fun working with author Nataliya Lang on the translation of her new book One Heart Is All I Have. Having already translated The Driving School, a few years ago, I was very excited to be asked to work on another of Nataliya’s novels. Nataliya is a talented writer and a wonderful person who cares very much about her writing and ensuring that the characters’ emotions and psychology are properly explored and conveyed, at the same time as giving her readers a story to enjoy.
The narrator of One Heart is Anna, a young woman who is just embarking on a writing career and is looking for a subject for her new novel. By pure chance, she meets Eduard, a cantankerous woman-hater, in an airport waiting room, and is annoyed when their paths cross again and he ‘serenades’ her with his misogynistic songs one evening in a park in Leipzig. When Eduard suggests she should write a book about him, she boldly accepts the challenge and, although this leads to some gruelling emotional adventures, she also meets a selection of other interesting characters along the way. Agnieszka, a widow with a seriously ill son, Bertha the café proprietor, Laura the cat-loving housekeeper, the enigmatic Iola, and many more have all played a part in Eduard’s life. Intrigued by his complex personality, Anna sets about trying to figure out how a lovestruck student became an irritable middle-aged man and why he has such fond memories of the GDR with its bland cuisine and political prisoners.
Despite the psychological subject matter and the careful attention to emotional detail, the story is simply told and easy to read. The characters are serious yet entertaining and the accounts of their lives interweave with those of Eduard and Anna, gradually adding pieces to the puzzle that is Eduard. Not all the questions are answered, though, as the story is to be continued in Part 2. I can’t wait to read it!