Lit & Found: Odai Alzoubi’s ‘The Butterfly’s Shadow’ in Four Languages

Over at Specimen Press’s The Babel Review of Translations, translators have brought Odai Alzoubi’s ظل الفراشة into English (Yasmine Haj), Danish (June Dahy), and Japanese (Ayumi Yanagiya).

Alzoubi is a Syrian writer, translator, and journalist who lives and works in Malmo, Sweden. He has a PhD in philosophy from the University of East Anglia in Norwich and has published several collections of short stories. He has translated works by Bertrand Russell from English into Arabic and writes for the Syrian culture website Al-Jumhuriya. He is currently a writer in residence at the Jan Michalski Foundation.

The Butterfly’s Shadow” opens, in its English translation:

“I don’t think it has to do anything with age. I’m now forty years old and am still confused. When I was a teenager, I thought my forties were so far down the road. I didn’t even think about what might happen then. In my early twenties, when I first entered the job market, I was sure that time would refine me. At forty, I’d be a confident man; a man with life experience, but still himself. Do you get it? Today, I’m still as I was, I don’t know what I’m doing. Margarette says that a long vacation might do me some good. I don’t know, man. She says that a human can quietly look for their self and find it. I suspect this is all the books she keeps reading talking. How would things be different if I were in a faraway place, birdwatching? Would I better understand the world around me? I doubt it. The thing is, I don’t know who I am. Forty years old, and I still don’t know who I am! Can you believe it?”

Read the whole text in Arabic — as well as in its English, Danish, and Japanese translations — at The Babel Review.