Monday, August 11, 2014

WITMonth Day 10 - The wider world

We started WITMonth with the most prolific countries - France, Germany, Sweden, Spain... We continue now with an exponentially larger chunk of land, but one that is undeniably far less represented in literature, particularly for women writers.

The most commonly translated languages are consistently French, Spanish and German. We can all think of many French writers, but how many of us can name more than a handful of Chinese writers? How well do we know African literature? What have we read from southeast Asia? How many Arab writers are we familiar with? Without even looking at the division between men and women yet, I think it's fair to say that most of us haven't had as much experience with these regions as compared to Western/Northern Europe, simply because significantly less is available.

This week's region - all of Asia, Africa, and whatever bits of Oceania may qualify - is huge, with incredible diversity across its region. Nothing binds these different continents together, other than their lower translation rates. But this giant region encompasses so very much: it's got my own home country, the two most populated countries in the world, countries that represent some of the oldest stories in the world, countries that have largely been ignored from a literary perspective, and countries that many of us simply know little about. One week will never be enough to scratch the surface of this entire region, but it's enough to give us a taste and show that there is plenty of literature - and literature by women - coming out of "unexpected" places. Literature is not simply a European affair, and it's not limited to a privileged elite. It's everywhere, in every form, and it's worth taking a moment to finding these new voices.

1 comment:

  1. I'm reading more and more Japanese authors, thanks to the Japanese Literature Challenge. Fascinating

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