A translator’s responsibilities are as formidable as a transplant surgeon’s

When asked what it is we do, translators often resort to metaphors. We liken the act of translation to performing a piece of music, taking on a role in a play, kissing a bride through a veil or building bridges between cultures. But as the peerless Norwegian translator Damion Searls has said, when we sit down to work ‘there’s no metaphor at all really. The metaphors are just for interviews, or for talking with people about what translators do’. In this series of passionate, thoughtful essays, Jhumpa Lahiri uses metaphors, and more especially Ovid’s Metamorphoses, to explore the nebulous, almost ineffable nature of living between languages. The book is also