12 Stories in 18 Languages by 61 Authors

Adam Thirlwell

Published: 1 August 2013
Hardback, Short Royal HB
156x200mm, 448 pages
ISBN: 9781846275371

Other Editions

Trade Paperback

Image of

Published: 1 August 2013
Trade Paperback, 200x153
153x200mm, 448 pages
ISBN: 9781846275388

Ebook Available


Like Chinese whispers, the rules of this literary game are simple: the first writer translates an unknown story into English, which a second writer then translates into a different language, and a third translates back into English, and so on, down the line. As the stories are told and retold, out of English and in again, they are transformed, twisted and turned into something new.

Featuring an all-star international line-up of writers from Zadie Smith to Alejandro Zambra, via Jeffrey Eugenides, Laurent Binet, Javier Marías, David Mitchell, Colm Tóibín, Etgar Keret and Sheila Heti, this collection is pure literary entertainment. Playful, provocative and wilfully inventive, Multiples asks fascinating questions about the relationship between a translation and a version, about the art of storytelling, and about the way that our individual linguistic choices reflect our shared cultural prejudices. Here, we see not so much what is lost in translation, but what is found.

About the author

Image of Adam Thirlwell

Adam Thirlwell was born in London in 1978. He is the author of the novels Politics and The Escape, and Kapow!, a novella, as well as a book of international novels, which won a Somerset Maugham award. His work has been translated into 30 languages. More about the author


‘A fascinating collection of stories in 18 languages and featuring translations by fiction superstars such as Zadie Smith and JM Coetzee... Wonderful’ Stephanie Cross, five star review



‘A mischievous sortie into linguistic mutability... There's plenty of fun to be had here’ James Urquhart

‘Enjoy-able for both the self-echoing whole and the cunning individual performances... Rewarding’ Michael Caines

‘Fascinating... There is something exhilarating about the brio and virtuosity on display... Diverting [and] breathtaking’

‘I can imagine dipping into this delightful compendium for years to come... For all its parlour-game charms, it is subversive at heart, challenging just about everything we hold true about authenticity, originality and creative genius... Brilliant’ Maureen Freely

‘Interesting... a clever concept’

‘Playful... stories are told and retold from English into other languages and back, leading to happy accidents to both amuse and confuse’

‘Somehow manages to be simultaneously profoundly fun literary entertainment and profoundly serious literary/philosophical investigation... This is the best game of Chinese whispers we've ever seen in print’ Stuart Hammond

‘The fun in comparing the first translated version with the last is considerable... Fascinating’ Anne Harvey

‘The whole thing is big, preposterously ambitious and pleasingly silly. But meaningful, too... A fascinating experiment in language and the effects of style’ Daniel Hahn

‘There is a moving case of translation loss in the book, but it involves history as much as literature, and the book is also full of gains’ Michael Wood

‘Wonderfully ingenious’

‘Wonderfully supple... exquisite’ Lucien Robinson

‘You don't need to be a polyglot to take pleasure from Multiples. The minimum requirement is a curiosity about language and the writing craft’ Sophie Hughes

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