When renowned translator Hanne Schubert falls down a flight of stairs, she suffers a brain injury and ends up with an unusual but real condition: the ability to only speak the language she learned later in life: Japanese. Isolated from the English-speaking world, Hanne flees to Japan, where a Japanese novelist whose work she has recently translated accuses her of mangling his work. Distraught, she meets a new inspiration for her work: a Japanese Noh actor named Moto. Through their contentious interactions, Moto slowly finds his way back onto stage while Hanne begins to understand how she mistranslated not only the novel, but also her daughter, who has not spoken to Hanne in six years. Armed with new knowledge languages both spoken and unspoken, she sets out to make amends.
Nina Schuyler's first novel, The Painting, was nominated for the Northern California Book Award and named a Best Book of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle and Rocky Mountain News. She was nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Prize and teaches creative writing at the University of San Francisco.