Foreign Language Friday: Hyperbole and a Half (Un’iperbole e mezza)

Foreign Language Friday: Hyperbole and a Half (Un’iperbole e mezza)Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh
Published by Touchstone on October 29, 2013
Pages: 369
Source: I purchased a copy of this book.
IndieBoundBarnes & NobleAmazon

This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative--like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it--but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:
PicturesWordsStories about things that happened to meStories about things that happened to other people because of meEight billion dollars*Stories about dogsThe secret to eternal happiness*
*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!

Today I’m not reviewing Hyperbole and a Half; instead, I’d like to share what it was like to read a popular graphic novel in my non-native language. April at The Steadfast Reader summed up the book perfectly in her “Best Books of 2013” post: “Laugh like a maniac funny, Allie Brosh has a rare talent to be able to speak of the struggles of depression in a way that is authentic, meaningful, and also hysterical.”

I’ve been wanting to read this book since it was first published, but never quite got around to it. When I noticed it had been translated into Italian, I bought a copy. It’s a graphic novel, so it’ll probably be an easy peasy read, I thought.

HA! Think again!

Actually, to be fair, every once in a while the illustrations did help me read with a little more fluency. But overall, this book was quite difficult for me. Part of that probably had to do with me going into it expecting a relaxed, veg out kind of read. But…I’m not up to date on my slang. And the overall language is very informal. There were a lot of words I didn’t know, and being a physical book, I couldn’t just tap the word to find out what it meant. Also, up until now, I haven’t read anything more difficult than middle grade fiction, which this is most certainly not.

Thankfully, I was already familiar with some of the stories in the book via the blog. I think that was a saving grace for me. I may re-read this in English, which sort of makes me feel like I failed. But you know, I stretched myself, which is always good. And I was reminded that graphic novels are a complete package. It’s not just about the illustrations. It’s not just about the text. Everything has to be taken in to get the most out of the reading experience.

  • I would have thought a graphic novel would be easier, too, but yes, slang is a good point. I am still on children’s book level with Spanish. I wonder if I will ever get past that point!

  • Thanks, Jennine! 🙂