THE INTERPRETER by Suzanne Glass


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Oddly understated debut novel about a possible cure for AIDS.

Dominique, the sensitive daughter of Holocaust survivors, is a simultaneous translator based in New York. At an international pharmaceutical conference, she overhears a troubling rumor: a well-known medical researcher has discovered that blood cells infected with a leukemia virus show immunity to the virus that causes AIDS, but the drug conglomerate that employs him wants to suppress his discovery. Dominique is intrigued; her beloved friend Mischa has just been diagnosed as HIV-positive, and she would do anything to help him. As an interpreter, however, she's bound by strict rules of confidentiality and cannot in good conscience tell Mischa that there might be hope. And she has no way of finding out more until she meets Nicholas, a distinguished Italian doctor whose specialty is pediatric leukemia. Dominique doesn't know it was Nicholas who made the startling discovery, but she's strangely drawn to him. They begin a tenderly passionate affair, attending classical music concerts and nuzzling discreetly in upscale Manhattan restaurants. Nicholas is smitten with Dominique's quiet brilliance, and she eventually figures out who he is. Later, with many murmurs of misgiving, she gets all the details and betrays Nicholas's trust by revealing the news of his discovery, inconclusive though it is, on a national radio show. This makes for a disappointingly flat conclusion to an intriguing story, especially since it's not at all clear why Dominique thinks her action would help Mischa.

The plot is whisper-thin, and newcomer Glass, a columnist for London's Financial Times, doesn't say whether it has any factual basis. The main interest here lies in her subtle characterization and moody, elegiac style.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 1-58642-003-8
Page count: 302pp
Publisher: Steerforth
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2000