Mac's Backs Sci-Fi Book Club discusses Babel by R.F. Kuang.
Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.
1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he'll enroll in Oxford University's prestigious Royal Institute of Translation--also known as Babel.
Babel is the world's center for translation and, more importantly, magic. Silver working--the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation using enchanted silver bars--has made the British unparalleled in power, as its knowledge serves the Empire's quest for colonization.
For Robin, Oxford is a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge obeys power, and as a Chinese boy raised in Britain, Robin realizes serving Babel means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress, Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to stopping imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide...
Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence?
"Babel has earned tremendous praise and deserves all of it. It's Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass by way of N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season: inventive and engaging, passionate and precise. Kuang is fiercely disciplined even when she's playful and experimental ... Like the silver bars at its heart--like empires and academic institutions both--Babel derives its power from sustaining a contradiction, from trying to hold in your head both love and hatred for the charming thing that sustains itself by devouring you." -- New York Times Book Review
"R.F. Kuang has written a masterpiece. Through a meticulously researched and a wholly impressive deep dive into linguistics and the politics of language and translation, Kuang weaves a story that is part love-hate letter to academia, part scathing indictment of the colonial enterprise, and all fiery revolution."
-- Rebecca Roanhorse, New York Times bestselling author of Black Sun
Rebecca F. Kuang is the #1 New York Times and #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of the Poppy War trilogy, Babel: An Arcane History, and Yellowface. Her work has won the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, and British Book Awards. A Marshall Scholar, she has an MPhil in Chinese Studies from Cambridge and an MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies from Oxford. She is now pursuing a PhD in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale, where she studies diaspora, contemporary Sinophone literature, and Asian American literature.
The book will be available at Mac's Backs or through our website at the 20% book club discount.