Good on Paper
Is a new life possible? Because Shira Greene's life hasn't quite turned out as planned. When she was a teenager growing up in Rome, she was going to be the world's first writing, dancing architect, and her best friend Ahmad, a famous painter. But those dreams got derailed, and thirty years later, Shira is a permanent temp, with a few short stories published in minor literary magazines and a PhD on Dante's Vita Nuova and theories of translation abandoned halfway.
Her life has some happy certainties, though: she lives with Ahmad, who came out and became a successful economics professor, and her daughter Andi --- the result of a one-night stand with a stranger on a trip to Delhi seven years ago --- on the Upper West Side. They're an unconventional family but a real one, with Friday night dinner rituals, private jokes, and the shared joys and strains of any other family.
So when she gets a call from Romei, the winner of last year's Nobel Prize and the irascible idol of grad students everywhere, who tells her he wants her to translate his new book, Shira's happy, but stunned. He will, he says, tell story of his wife in poetry and prose as Dante did in the Vita Nuova, his account of his passionate love for the lady Beatrice, a love that has life-transforming properties.
In the job, Shira sees her own New Life beckoning--- academic glory, a career as a literary translator, and even love, with Benny Jablonsky, part-time rabbi and owner of the neighborhood indie bookstore, People of the Book. That is, until Romei starts sending her pages from the manuscript, and she realizes that something odd is going on: this book may in fact be untranslatable.
A deft, funny, and big-hearted book about second chances.