Featured Translation: Sea Air by Jule Meeringa


There were over 450 new translations published this year, and trust us, we know from experience, keeping track of them all can be a maddening exercise. Each weekday from now until the end of the year we’ll highlight a different title that you may have missed. From short story collections to epic novels, from award winning works of the highest literary caliber to trashy romantic beach reads, we’ll feature the very best, and the very worst that 2015 had to offer, one book at a time.

Sea Air by Jule Meeringa / Translated from the German by Terry LasterAccording to the official numbers, since 2013 AmazonCrossing has been the number one publisher of translated literature in the United States. You read that right. Not Dalkey Archive Press. Not Seagull Books. Not Europa Editions. AmazonmuthafukinCrossing. This calendar year alone the Visual Guide is tracking 57 titles that they’re publishing. FIFTY-SEVEN. Are any of them any good though? Actually, yes. We’ll get to that in minute.

It’s easy to hate on everything Amazon. It’s especially easy to hate on AmazonCrossing, with their colophons stuffed full of cringeworthy text like “Previously published as Die lezte Fahrt des legendaren Schiffsfrisors Sigismund Skrik by the author via the Kindle Direct Publising Platform in Germany in 2013.Emphasis mine.

Yes, I’m looking right at you The Last Voyage of Sigismund Skrik. I mean, your description alone is so goddamn awful that you must in fact be a good book, right?:

Widely known as “master hairdresser of the seven seas,” Sigismund Skrik is famous both as an artist of the scissors and comb, and as the soul of discretion. Not only will he give clients new, life-changing looks—he also gets to know all their secrets.

C’mon, you know you want Karli to read and review that one, right? Don’t be shy. Let her know! Better her than me.

In fairness I did review two AmazonCrossing titles this year. Both positively I might add! But for every 1988: I Want to Talk With the World and Nowhere to Be Found that they publish, there are at least twenty Die lezte Fahrt des legendaren Schiffsfrisors Sigismund Skrik’s AmazonCrossing gleefully sends to the printing presses without a second thought. Books whose target market is questionable at best. Books that make me wonder, with the audience for translated literature already so small, are there really a whole host of people lining up to get their hands on translations of self published German historical hairdresser fiction? If so, I really need to rethink this website’s target demographic.

Back to the idea of fairness though. One of the first redesigns we did to the Visual Guide was to include the ability to filter by subgenre. We did this because our purpose in creating the tool was to help promote our love of translated literature and to make sure we were able to connect curious readers with the types of books that they’d enjoy reading.

Look, I’m never going to read and review a straight-up romance novel, that’s just not what I’m into, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t some value and/or enjoyment to be found in them for someone else. With that fact in mind, self-published author Jule Meeringa’s Sea Air becomes our featured translation of the day. It’s got adventure. It’s got sea. It’s got intergenerational romance. It’s got air.

It’s also got runny poo.

“Yes,” Paula agreed. “She had diarrhea. Hey, Momma? Did Mathis put his penis in your vagina?”

You had me at diarrhea.
I stayed for the promise of insertion.
You hardly made me wait that long!

In his/her short, but touching review for Amazon.com, Amazon Customer states:

The storyline was nice but very plodding to get to the end. Read the beginning, the middle and the end and you should be good.

So, read the whole thing then?

Sea Air was translated from the German by Terry Laster. Typographical Era is seriously considering optioning the film rights.

Like what you’re reading? You can follow all of our Featured Translation posts on Twitter using the hashtag #FeaturedTranslation.

About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.