I liked One Day. As I laughed out loud reading the book, mum kept asking what it was about, and if it was any good, so I got her a copy of the Turkish translation for her birthday. Yes, the book was funny, but at times the dialogues and the narration sounded a bit like a stand-up comedy. I felt like Emma, the protagonist, who got annoyed as her failed comedian of a boyfriend always had to say something “with some comic intent.”
But behind the humour there was critique of course. This scene sounded really 90s for example:
While Biggsy sorts out his decks everyone else goes and lolls in a great tangled pile on the huge four-poster bed, which is covered in ironic acrylic tiger skins and black synthetic sheets. Above the bed is a semi-ironic mirror, and they stare up at it through heavy eye-lids, admiring themselves as they sprawl beneath, heads resting in laps, hands searching around for other hands, listening to the music, young and smart, attractive and successful, in the know and not in their right minds, all of them thinking how great they look and what good friends they’re going to be from now on. […] “I think you’re amazing” someone says to someone else but it doesn’t matter who, because they’re all amazing really. People are amazing (112).
As I started reading the first chapter, I spotted an expression that has been recently added to my vocabulary of English slang: ra. (The sentence reads: “Yachting your way round the Med, in the long hols, ra ra ra–” ). Well, doing research in cultural sociology, and more importantly, doing this piece of research at the University of Exeter, (haha!) I thought I’d be quite privileged, for someone who speaks English as a foreign language, to know the meaning of this abbreviation, which doesn’t as yet exist in standard dictionaries. (Really, I learnt the word at a serious meeting with my supervisor and fellow PhD students). So when I got the Turkish book, I checked that sentence – the expression unfortunately simplified to “lay lay lom”, which back-translates as “happy-go-lucky” – and thought to myself once more what tricky business this translation is. (For those interested, we do actually have a few corresponding expressions in Turkish.)