Book titles taken from subject lines of drunk e-mails to best friend

A Girl Unloved by Men

My first thought when I saw the Arabic title of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was pretty negative.

“Right,” I thought. “Because all complex female characters are actually just bitter harpies who need to get laid.”

The publishers can be somewhat forgiven, since, on further investigation, I discovered that the original title in Swedish is Män som hatar kvinnor, or Men Who Hate Women. A similar theme, but it’s still worth noting that in Arabic the implicit blame has shifted to the girl.

Full disclosure: I have not read the book, and from what I understand the female protagonist does, indeed, have intimacy issues, but I still think this is a pretty bad title. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo promises seduction, mystery, and escapism at its best and most sordid. A Girl Unloved by Men sounds like a coming of age tale involving a troubled teen and an equally wild horse slowly learning to trust each other over the course of a fateful summer on her uncle’s ranch. That’s if it were published in English. In Arabic, Fataatoun La Yuhibuha Ar-Rijaal sounds like khaleeji chick lit, and not the good kind (yes, there is a good kind).

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