ARC REVIEW: Babel – by Gaston Dorren

Title: Babel
Author: Gaston Dorren
Genre: Non Fiction, Linguistics
First published: December 4th 2018
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Finished reading: November 25th 2018
Pages: 320

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Atlantic Monthly Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***


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Happy publication day!!

Some of you might already know I’m actually a philologist and linguistics has always been one of my favorite areas of study. Therefore I thought Babel would be perfect for me… I mean, traveling the world through twenty languages that together can make you communicate with at least half of the world population? Sounds like pretty much a dream topic for philologists to me. Sadly, this book failed to hit the mark completely for me. There were a lot of editing errors in my ARC copy, with not only spelling errors and words stuck together without hitting the space bar, but also more critical ones like all the missing numbers and facts that haven’t been incorporated yet (hopefully they will in the future). This made it a lot harder to read and slowed down the pace considerably. Also, I felt I was missing out by not having all the fun facts, numbers and comparisons. Editing issues aside, I had also problems with the writing style in general. Both the tone and style of each chapter seemed to vary considerably and simply didn’t feel consistent to me. From a memoir style approach to an informal interview style and a history lesson; I just didn’t feel I was getting to know each language equally. Not every chapter was as pleasant to read either as some didn’t flow that well and had quite a slow pace. There were some interesting facts as well of course and I think philologists and language fans in general will still be interested in the title. I just hope at least the editing issues will be dealt with so we get the full package of information and little fun facts.


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12 thoughts on “ARC REVIEW: Babel – by Gaston Dorren

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  4. Hi Yvo, here’s the author. I’m really sorry to hear that the advance copy was such a mess. I heard that from several people, and I can just imagine how annoying it must be. Also, the cover that came with it, reproduced above, is packed with flaws and therefore rather different from the final version. I’ll speak to the publisher about this.
    Of course, not all of your criticism is ARC-related, nor am I going to try and change your mind! I’ve noticed that some people like the chapters’ being ‘diverse’ in tone, while others perceive this as ‘inconsistent’. Both are right, of course. And even I myself like some chapters better than others… Fortunately, the book got several very favorable reviews in the US and UK press. Anyway, thank you for reading and reviewing Babel!
    Gaston (languagewriter.com)

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