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Lost in Translation

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  1,797 Ratings  ·  234 Reviews
A novel of searing intelligence and startling originality, Lost in Translation heralds the debut of a unique new voice on the literary landscape.  Nicole Mones creates an unforgettable story of love and desire, of family ties and human conflict, and of one woman's struggle to lose herself in a foreign land--only to discover her home, her heart, herself.

At dawn in Beijing,
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 11th 1999 by Delta (first published January 1st 1988)
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May 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
366 Pages. Donated 2010 May.

Nicole Mones doesn't waste any time getting to the heart of the matter in her first novel, Lost in Translation. Within the first 10 pages we discover that protagonist Alice Mannegan, an interpreter based in Beijing, has a yen for sex with Chinese men. By the time we reach page 20, we've learned that Alice is in full flight from her father, a racist U.S. congressman, and about to start working for Adam Spencer, an American archeologist on the hunt for the missing bones
3.5 stars

A myriad of thoughts are running through my head as I contemplate what to write about my reaction to this book. The characters in this story are all a bit lost in the translations of their lives. It's rather poignant, maybe even a bit relatable. Do we not all lose our sense of self at some point, or at the very least question it?

But where I struggled with this book was that I never fully engaged with the protagonist. I guess I never really understood her drive to run away so thoroughly
Liza Miller
May 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Let's start with a seemingly obvious but wildly overlooked detail: Nicole Mones' "Lost in Translation" is not Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation." I mean, sure, they're both about American women floating adrift in Asian countries who have asexual relationships with American men that teach them about the culture in which they've been absorbed and also about themselves. But OTHER THAN THAT, they're totally different stories. (Full disclosure: I didn't realize how similar they were when when I st ...more
Carinya Kappler
Dec 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Perhaps I have benefited by not yet having seen the well publicised but little understood movie version of “Lost in Translation”. I was able to tackle the novel with no preconceived notions of the delicacy required to preserve the cultural bridge between westerners and Chinese, and indeed between Chinese people themselves in their daily dealings with each other.
Whether the novel accurately portrays the cultural mysteries or not is not an essential ingredient for the reader’s enjoyment of this be
Apr 10, 2012 rated it liked it
This is NM's first book but I read it last. So even though I think it is good I felt the sense of an author finding a formula and sticking with it.
Mones books are interesting, well researched, compelling to read, and they always teach you something - Peking Man, Chinese porcelain, food, but there is that repetition of elements that dominate the books. Obviously the geographical setting - China - is one of them, there's the strong, smart, female character, aged 35+, and there is the romance.
May 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book really surprised me! I purchased it from a library discard pile. What luck! For this book I would have happily paid more than the dollar that I did. It's an agonizingly lovely book that uses the dischord between an American woman and her given culture, and family, to craft a tale that puts the alienation anybody can feel into a deeper perspective. Unlike just anybody, the protagonist loses herself in the classic language and ancient traditions of her chosen home: in China. Reading it, ...more
Feb 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lost in Translation by Nicole Mones is set in modern-day China. Alice Mannegan is an American woman living on her own in China, working as a freelance translator.

Her father Horace Mannegan is a US Congressman. When she was a small child, he gave a pro-segregation speech that incited a race riot. She is ashamed of his racism and refuses to live in America. However she readily accepts his money to support her lifestyle. Alice holds another grudge against her father: when she fell in love with a C
May 16, 2011 rated it liked it
An elaborate, yet low-key adventure about history, archaeology and finding a place to truly belong. Although the characters had a lot of potential, I never was able to connect with any of them - I had a hard time liking Alice. Her Daddy issues and borderline fetishism with Chinese culture wasn't endearing or understandable, it was annoying. Why Lin? What was special about him? Or her other, near-fiance? It's never quite clear. And why in the world are we, the reader, treated to a very late roman ...more
Alice Mannegan is a young American woman working as an interpreter in modern day China. When she is hired by Dr. Adam Spencer to help him search for the missing “Peking Man”, she embarks on a journey of intrigue, love and an enticing mystery.

The Asian cover of the book may make some think Nicole Mones’ novel is related to the movie of the same name, but let me assure you, it’s not. From the first chapter, I was absolutely drawn into this book. Mones presents a credible mystery – a clue that coul
Mar 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Retrieved this book from my storage locker; hidden within a medium size box of other treasures. Last read was over 4 years ago.

The story concerns a Chinese translator, Alice Mannegan, working in Guangzhou, China. She ran away as far as was possible from being the poster child for "white America" by her father, a U.S. Congressman. The story details the struggle she has not only with the language but the nuances built in over the centuries to it. The words don't necessarily correspond to their mea
May 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I would really love the chance to travel to China. This novel takes place there and it's a bit mysterious, the book has a way of drawing me in! I love it and I want to read Nicole Mones other 2 books, one on my kindle and one I just ordered in Paperback, didn't like the print on kindle for that one, for some reason.

Oh, this book was exotic and erotic. I loved the story about Alice and her desire to stay in China or move back to the U.S. Her job as interpreter to an Archeaologist was so interesti
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2011
This is my second Mones book, and I've decided that she's a keeper! Her two-fold view of cultural China is enlightening. This book is in many ways similar to The Last Chinese Chef, especially with both viewpoints: that of a foreigner and a native. Alice's interal demons and her eventual resolution of these issues closely paralleled my situation at this time. Imagine that!? So yes, so glad I read this and would highly recommend it.
Apr 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
I wonder how many people are like me, and picked up this book because they thought it was the origin of the movie?

Whatever, I'm glad I did pick it up (even though it has nothing to do with the movie at all), because I thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked the heroine, I liked the insight into the Chinese people, language and country, and I enjoyed the plot.

I will certainly look out for other books by this author.
Lisa Murray
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: multicultural
Hard to believe that this was published almost 30 years ago. Except for the missing technology this feels as though it could have been written in the last decade.

This haunting examination of actively choosing to be in a minority as a sort of penance is stitched into a treasure hunt and a bungling sort of Big Brother-ish governmental scheme.
Dec 02, 2014 rated it did not like it
This was a very strange book, very disconnected. There were many pages, too many, to get to know the characters, but we never did. Very drawn out, no conclusion, and couldn't wait for it to be over.
Feb 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, read-2008
Lost in Translation is a novel about love--between a nation and its past, between a man and a memory, between a father and a daughter.
May 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I'd actually give this novel 3.5 stars; it was that good. Alice, the main character, is so intelligent, erotic, and likable that I didn't want her story to end. While her relationships are troubling, to say the least, they are also quite thought-provoking on many levels. The knowledge and essence of China, and her people that Mones brings to this piece is beyond impressive as well.
Fatma Al-Ajmi
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Make me more myself, as I dream to make you reaching the best of yourself." 🌟
Saki Palme
Mar 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I was looking for this book for years. Ive read a short part from it in one slovak book (Čína na dlhom pochode - Leopold Moravčík) when I was a lot younger. Even after reading such a short part it really got me interested, but I think after all those years it found the already different me so... I was a little bit disappointed. Whatever review youre going to read is probably going to be truthful in every aspect, so if it caught your attention read it, but remember books like this are meant for p ...more
Mel P
Feb 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me awhile to get into this book. It was very slow building but once it got me, it got me. There was something very poetic and sensuous in the way the author described things. The tension between Alice and Lin. The desperation and sadness of Dr. Spenser. Alice was such a complex character yearning to be accepted but at the same time not accepting herself. She had obviously gone to China to, what she thought, to find herself but what she was really doing was running away from herself and h ...more
Mohana Talapatra
Aug 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Lost in Translation appealed on several levels.. it is a moving, poetic, elegiac read of an American woman in search of love, her true parentage, her roots, identity and definition, in a country she has always called home (China) but which has always treated her as an outsider (even as she understands the nuances of the language and the culture almost as a native Chinese would); her unconditional love and desire for belonging to a country and its people, where her American free spirited love is ...more
Jul 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book could be the cure for insomnia.

I am usually a very fast reader but in this case, reading was almost a chore. You'd think a book about a search for an anthropology treasure set against Chinese culture and politics, along with an American woman with severe daddy issues who wishes she were Chinese (not to mention a hot Chinese guy with a tragic backstory) would be difficult to put down. Yet it is. It's like the writer divided by zero.

Instead, there are too many plot elements working again
Jan 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Rather slow. Good enough, but wouldn't read again. A novel of searing intelligence and startling originality, Lost in Translation heralds the debut of a unique new voice on the literary landscape. Nicole Mones creates an unforgettable story of love and desire, of family ties and human conflict, and of one woman's struggle to lose herself in a foreign land--only to discover her home, her heart, herself. At dawn in Beijing, Alice Mannegan pedals a bicycle through the deserted streets. An American ...more
John Marsh
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jacquelyn Pitts
Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
I listened to this audiobook thinking that it was the precursor to the movie. It is not, thankfully. Lost in Translation follows an American interpreter, in China, as she tries to make a life for herself there.
I am thankful that I chose to listen to this novel-- hearing Angela Lin speak the Chinese dialogues instead of whatever silent incoherence I might've encountered had I read the book myself.

The story travels from Beijing, to the remote city of Yinchuan, and eventually to inner Mongolia.
Marilyn Saul
Aug 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
I had great expectations about this book. What's not to like? A young woman wanting to assimilate in a foreign country because she wants to be part of a "family" - I can relate to that. An archaeologist searching for the remains of the Peking Man? Sounds intriguing even though I know the ending. What I got instead was a privileged American girl (could not by any stretch of the imagination be called a woman because she lacked all nature of maturity), who hates her racist, Congressman father. Oh, ...more
Jan 21, 2010 rated it liked it
I loved the way this book brought the Chinese language alive. The use of exact(ish I'm sure) translations of phrases within a conversation was skillfully done and wasn't annoying or distracting, as it can often be. The author gave a feel for the formality and caution that pervades all aspects of life in China, including its language.

The book centers on an American interpreter who has been hired by an American archaeologist to aid him in his search for the Peking Man lost bones. Peking Man was a
Sep 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: modern
I read Nicole's book "The Last Chinese Chef" a few years ago and loved it so much that I read it a second time. When I discovered "Lost in Translation" and that it was written by Nicole, I immediately wanted to find the book and read it. I also was under the assumption that the movie by Sofia Coppola was based off of this book. Well I finally read it and after the first few chapters (you'd think it would have happened in the first few sentences) realized the book and movie are nothing alike. Bas ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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“But in the end he didn't love her enough to fight for her.” 5 likes
“If there was one thing she knew by then, by age twenty-two, it was that she had to get far away and stay away. Here in his world she was trapped in an intolerable corner, which seemed to grow tighter and tighter each year. And now no place in America felt right.” 4 likes
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