Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Translator” as Want to Read:
The Translator
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Translator

by
3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  1,080 Ratings  ·  178 Reviews
American readers were introduced to the award-winning Sudanese author Leila Aboulela with "Minaret," a delicate tale of a privileged young African Muslim woman adjusting to her new life as a maid in London. Now, for the first time in North America, we step back to her extraordinarily assured debut about a widowed Muslim mother living in Aberdeen who falls in love with a Sc ...more
ebook, 208 pages
Published December 1st 2007 by Grove Press (first published 1999)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Translator, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Translator

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Zanna
Warning to readers! This edition includes an incredibly annoying introduction by Anne Donovan which praises Aboulela's text in rather general terms and summarises the plot, as if you want the whole thing spoiled for you before beginning! It isn't a gripping thriller full of twists, granted, but that doesn't mean I don't want to be surprised by what the author hasn't chosen to reveal in advance. This would have made a perfectly inoffensive and even pleasant afterword, if one were needed, but I wa ...more
Sadia
Nov 17, 2008 Sadia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is undoubtedly one of the best books I've had the opportunity to read. The characters make your heart soar, the dialogues, images, themes are all profoundly moving. I have not had such an emotional response to a piece of fiction in a long time. I learned many things from this book: I remembered prayer, I thought of loss, and love and the pervasive nature of love that allows you to conquer fear and stigma. I learned about the beauty of the human spirit to persevere, to hold onto love despite ...more
Alicia
Sep 09, 2007 Alicia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of (oddly enough) a translator:) This is about a Sudanese widow who has embraced her Islamic religion. She is living in Scotland when she start working as an Arabic translator for an Islamic scholar who is not a believer. After they fall in love she must decide what is stronger, her love or her faith. What this novel explores with great finesse is the true nature of faith. What it means to be faithful and what it means to give your life over to that. The language in this novel is a joy ...more
Deepti
Aug 06, 2012 Deepti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Translator is about Sammar, a Muslim widow, who moves to Scotland with her husband before he dies in a car accident. Its a moving and accurate tale about a demographic that is inexplicable to most Westerners: the Muslim woman. The tale starts with Sammar translating a document sent by a terrorist group. She notes how rife with spelling mistakes it is, how pathetic and instantly creates a barrier between Muslims like her, and uneducated extremists like them, fighting against a force they don' ...more
Imas
Setelah sempat membaca beberapa lembar dan kemudian ditinggalkan, aku mulai membaca buku ini dari awal lagi.

Aku suka dengan cara Aboulela menulis kalimat-kalimat dalam buku ini. Benar-benar membawa emosi dengan cara yang begitu lembut. Kesedihan, kekosongan dan dilema yang dialami sang tokoh memang terasa.

Ini tentang Sammar, perempuan Sudan yang lahir di Inggris kemudian kembali ke Sudan bersama orangtuanya. Setelah dewasa dan menikah dengan sepupunya Tarig, Sammar pindah ke Skotlandia bersama
...more
Catherine
I was both absorbed by and ambivalent about this book - which is an oddity, because I wouldn't have thought it was possible to be both at once. But here I am - absorbed and ambivalent - having wanted very much to see where the story would go, and yet not really finding Aboulela's writing particularly compelling.

The Translator focuses on the life of Summar, a young, Sudanese widow in Aberdeen, who translates Arabic texts for a department at the local university. There she meets Rae, an Islamic sc
...more
رياض المسيبلي
إذا كانت رواية (موسم الهجرة ...) للراحل العظيم الطيب صالح تمثل حيرة الجنوب أمام الشمال الأوروبي, أو الشرق
أمام الغرب, والهزة العنيفة التي تولدت من هكذا لقاء, فإنّ رواية الأستاذة ليلى على النقيض من ذلك تماما.
إنها قصة امراة تحافظ على هويتها وتحمل ذاتها المسلمة العربية صامدة أمام الاكتساح الغربي.
إنها رواية آلام الغربة والبعد عن الوطن, آلام صراع الهوية والدفاع عنها, وقصة ألم المرأة الشرقية التي تنبت في
أوطانها وتلاحقها أينما حلت.
رواية رائعة, لكاتبة أروع
Faith
May 20, 2011 Faith rated it really liked it
I really love Aboulela's writing style. In this novel, like her latter two, she has a precise yet lyrical writing style that really pulls the reader in. Aboulela can take the mundane and show just how special it really is. Whether it's the daily prayer that Muslims do, taking a child to school or sitting in an office and eating lunch with a co-worker, Aboulela manages to make these ordinary activities into something profound and meaningful with just a few words.

As with her other novels, Aboulela
...more
Lila
Spoiler alert ( even though the spoiler is hidden)
Set in Scottland and Sudan, this novel is both moving and light. The story follows the life of a widowed Sudanese academic who works as a translator for a university professor. The author Leila Aboulela is extremely gifted in describing the leading characters thought process and alternating seamlessly between what is currently happening in her life, her feelings, memories and conversations. She describes very well the feeling of what it is like
...more
Samar Almossa
Aug 03, 2009 Samar Almossa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
لقد أمتعتني الكاتبة بهذه الرواية المميزة جداً والتي تستحق الجائزة التي حصلت عليها
هي شرف لنا كمسلمة وروائية واقعية

. ليلى كاتبة متمكنة ورائعة ومؤثرة كم أعجبنتي القصة خصوصا حين أخذت الأحداث مجراها في السودان . مميزة بحق


بداية الرواية حتى منتصفها ممل بعض الشيء ولكن
ماأن تتفجر الأحداث في المنتصف حتى تصبح جذابة جداً
تتناول حياة أرملة كانت تعمل في مكتب

تتعلق بصاحبه وتتمنى أن ترتبط به ولكن هناك أزمات هناك فرق في الديانة وفي أمور كثيرة
تركت الغربة وعادت إلى بلدها " السودان " لتواجه مواقف مختلفه مع عائلته
...more
Ibtisam hashim
I was expecting a lot from this novel when i bought it! I am now disappointed..2 stars for its beautiful language & the rich scent of Sudan!
I hated the gloomy side of Sammar,i hated her detachment from her son(her own flesh & blood),i hated how she cornered Rae to convert &marry her! LoL
I loved the Sudan part of the story..it was closer to my soul!!
Eng.R.books
Sep 23, 2015 Eng.R.books rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
رواية هادئة جدا..أحداثها سلسة ولغتها عذبة .. ليلى أبو العلا.. قلم مبدع لم يقتله الاغتراب
ذكرتني بروائع إنعام كجه جي جدا
29-9-2015
Jessica
Jan 20, 2008 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
This is a beautiful novel, one which provides a window onto the Islamic faith and hope that there might be understanding between East and West.
Chahrazad
Jun 15, 2014 Chahrazad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-the-world
So this is one of the moments when the mood for a nice love story strikes me. A love story not like the cheesy ones we see nowadays, but rather something of a transcendatalist nature.... And I found this one!

Sammar, a Sudanese widowed translator, who lives in Aberdeen Scotland, faces loneliness and exile as her beloved husband, Tarig, dies in a car accident. Her faith keeps her from surrendering to a hollow life or to an inevitable suicide. She meets Rae, an Islamic scholar in the university whe
...more
Hafsa
May 03, 2010 Hafsa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Refreshing, serene, and honest. I think this is one of the first books I've read either about or by a Muslim woman that didn't make me want to bang my head against the wall.

The two main characters--Rae and Sammar--are described so beautifully--and I enjoyed the simple way in which she described their budding relationship. The themes of love and loss, doubt and faith, prayer and patience, were beautifully navigated. One of my favorite lines was near the end, when Rae tells Sammar that what he re
...more
Freda
Jul 03, 2007 Freda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: islamicfiction
This is a wonderful book in every way - well written, true to life. The central character is a Muslim woman of Sudanese origin,Sammar, living in Scotland. She falls in love with a Scot secular Islamic scholar and goes through the agony of loving him but knowing that she has to keep her Islamic distance from him. Finally she pleads with him to take the Shahadah so they can marry. He refuses because he isn't sure that he believes. Since it is a 'romance' it ends happily when he accept Islam in his ...more
Judy
Sammar, a Sudanese widow, lives in Scotland and works as an Arabic translator at an Aberdeen university. She surfaces from debilitating grief as she realizes that love has slowly developed between her and a Scottish scholar of Arabic/Islamic studies.
Aboulela convincingly describes the anguish of Sammar's cross-cultural dilemmas. She brings to life scenes of Aberdeen and Khartoum. I highly recommend this sweet love story!
Zahrah Awaleh
Dec 05, 2007 Zahrah Awaleh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this better than The Minaret because the characters are more rounded and complex. You really get inside the head of the heroine and feel what it's like to experience bereavement in exile. She finally shows the reader that she's strong enough to set free the man she loves , only for him to return to her as a Muslim. This part was a bit sentimental I suppose and predictable, but the girl deserves some happiness!!!
Roma
Aug 24, 2014 Roma rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: islam, romance, novel
Sammar, the Sudanese translator, is a young widow who lives in Aberdeen, Scotland. She falls in love with her employer, an ultra-left wing Islam-groupie. At first, he's unwilling to take the plunge and convert, but in the end he does. So, happily ever after. LOL

This novel is reasonably well-written, though.
Samantha
Aug 14, 2012 Samantha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally, a romance where the female does lose who she is and what she can be to get the male. The protagonist stays true to herself and falls in love! The gorgeous prose offers a glimpse into the life of a Muslim widow.
Marcy
Jan 05, 2017 Marcy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Translator is about a Muslim woman named Sammar. She was born in Edinburgh, her father having studied in Scotland. The family moved back to Khartoum, Sudan where their Muslim religion ruled their lives. Sammar grew up with Tarig and his sister. Their mother was considered to be Sammar's aunt. Tarig and Sammar were inseparable and married later on in life. They moved to Edinburgh where Tarig was studying to be a doctor. When a drunk driver rear-ended his car, Tarig's life was cut short and Sa ...more
AnthouG
Jan 26, 2017 AnthouG rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contem-lit
Μια χήρα μουσουλμάνα μεταφράστρια ερωτεύεται έναν χριστιανό καθηγητή Πανεπιστημίου.
Ming
Jan 07, 2017 Ming rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently read four of her books, enjoyed them and want to read more from this author. This book is especially tender and moving. It's her debut book and the emotional tone is quite nuanced and compelling. I was drawn in and gripped by how Aboulela describes Sammar and the other characters. The author uses the third-person perspective but the sense of intimacy could not have been better. I felt each note of hesitation, confusion or joy. I appreciate Aboulela's precision and grace.

Having read f
...more
Mary
Oct 10, 2016 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was amazed at how much complexity of emotion, plot and information is crammed into such a short book. Also, for me some insights into Islam and what it might be like to be a Muslim woman.
ضُحى
Jul 31, 2010 ضُحى rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: للي قرا "موسم الهجرة إلى الشمال " للأرتباط اللي بينهم
Recommended to ضُحى by: لا احد ..من تلقاء نفسي
من تعليق سابق:



(الخميس 6-4-30 بدأت في قراءة روايه ),في نظرتي الاولى لها ومن على رفوف المكتبه لم يكن الغلاف جذاباً ولم تكن الكاتبه مشهوره,ولكن بتصفحها سريعاً احسست انها تأخذني الى روايه اخرى بحثت عنها مطولا ولم اجدها وهي " موسم الهجره الى الشمال " .. التشابه الاوليّ بينهم ان كلا الكاتبين من السودان,وان كلاهما يصور الاحداث في الغربه.فرحت لهذا التشابه ومضيت بمقولة " العوض ولا الحريمه"!

ولأني مذ ان كنت صغيره اكره الروايات!ولم تكن من الكتب المفظله لدي,حتى اذا وجدت قريباتي ينشغلن بروايات "عبير" كنت اضحك
...more
Friederike Knabe
Oct 13, 2011 Friederike Knabe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, african-lit
Aberdeen, Scotland and Khartoum, Sudan, cities more dissimilar than one could imagine, form the backdrop to this finely crafted, tender cross-cultural love story. They are intimately connected through the main character, Sammar, as she experiences the stark contrasts of culture, history and climate. Yet, she remains very much attached to both places. Leila Aboulela builds on her own experience to create the very personal associations between place and character. The author's brief, yet rich, nov ...more
Wulan Rt
Cerita roman yang indah berlatarkan dua negara yang berbeda 180 derajat.
Uniamel
Sep 17, 2016 Uniamel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Speechless. ❤
Thank you for writing such a great-sweet-deep story, Leila Aboulela.
You brought us to see Scotland, feel the sky of Sudan and love Rae as an awesome smart man, and Sammar as a well-mannered loving lady.
Another sweet romance novel. Cinta. Iman. Bahasa yang indah.
Maggie Roessler
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Heidi
Jul 25, 2013 Heidi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Translator is one of those books that has a simple storyline and seems easy to pass over for want of a more exciting tale. Yet the language that the author employs is wonderfully rich and evocative, causing simple scenes to burst fully to life – all hues in Technicolor glory, with the music playing in the background and the reader fully enmeshed in the story unfolding before them.

The plot concerns Sammar, a Sudanese Muslim woman who lives in Aberdeen and works as an Arabic translator for the
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Middle East/North...: Sudan: The Translator 43 29 Sep 13, 2015 09:42PM  
  • AMA
  • Waiting for an Angel
  • Secret Son
  • Reading the Ceiling
  • Distant View of a Minaret and Other Stories
  • A Border Passage: From Cairo to America – A Woman's Journey
  • Ancestor Stones
  • Naphtalene: A Novel of Baghdad
  • Harare North
  • Butterfly Burning
  • Knots
  • Changes: A Love Story
  • Arabian Jazz
  • Dreams in a Time of War: A Childhood Memoir
  • In the Fog of the Seasons' End
  • Black Mamba Boy
  • The Return of the Water Spirit
  • Ambiguous Adventure
62372
Leila Aboulela grew up in Khartoum, Sudan where she attended the Khartoum American School and Sister School. She graduated from Khartoum University in 1985 with a degree in Economics and was awarded her Masters degree in statistics from the London School of Economics. She lived for many years in Aberdeen where she wrote most of her works while looking after her family; she currently lives and lect ...more
More about Leila Aboulela...

Share This Book



“This is the enemy, what is irreversible, what has already reached the farthest of places. There is no going back. They can bomb bus-loads of tourists, burn the American flag, but they are not shooting the enemy. It is already with them, inside them, what makes them resentful, defensive, what makes them no longer confident of their vision of the world.” 6 likes
More quotes…