READING THE WORLD.

Ann Morgan decided to read a book from every country in the world in one year; she writes about the results for the BBC:

I created a blog called A Year of Reading the World and put out an appeal for suggestions of titles that I could read in English. The response was amazing. Before I knew it, people all over the planet were getting in touch with ideas and offers of help. Some posted me books from their home countries. Others did hours of research on my behalf. In addition, several writers, like Turkmenistan’s Ak Welsapar and Panama’s Juan David Morgan, sent me unpublished translations of their novels, giving me a rare opportunity to read works otherwise unavailable to the 62% of Brits who only speak English. Even with such an extraordinary team of bibliophiles behind me, however, sourcing books was no easy task. For a start, with translations making up only around 4.5 per cent of literary works published in the UK and Ireland, getting English versions of stories was tricky.
This was particularly true for francophone and lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) African countries. There’s precious little on offer for states such as the Comoros, Madagascar, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique – I had to rely on unpublished manuscripts for several of these. And when it came to the tiny island nation of Sao Tome & Principe, I would have been stuck without a team of volunteers in Europe and the US who translated a book of short stories by Santomean writer Olinda Beja just so that I could have something to read.

She ran into some unexpected problems, like the independence of South Sudan (she had to get a “bespoke short story” from Julia Duany), and she has interesting things to say about the results (“Far from simply armchair travelling, I found I was inhabiting the mental space of the storytellers”). Well worth a read, and of course be sure to check out the blog (she wound up adding Jalal Barzanji’s The Man in Blue Pyjamas from Kurdistan for a last-minute wild-card spot).

Comments

  1. SFReader says:

    Her choice of Mongolian book is amazing.
    Galsan Tschinag (Чинаагийн Галсан) is an ethnic Tuvan Mongolian writer who writes mostly in German.
    He is also a practicing shaman to boot…

  2. Interesting, but I kind of wish you’d focused on a different nationality…

  3. SFReader says:

    The Nomads by Ilyas Esenberlin is also a good choice. I’ve read it in Russian first and then tried to reread it in the original during my brief attempt to learn Kazakh language.
    It’s a good historical epic and I like best the part about 18th century war between Kazakhs and invaders from the East (who shall not be named…).

  4. Juan David Morgan from Panama, mentioned in the article, maintains a site (in Spanish) with much about his books and literary career here. He is a partner in the law firm his father founded.

  5. C’mon, Hat, this is the blog that put Mongolian on the world map of languages! You can’t take that away now!

  6. excuse me, why do you think you can selectively moderate me?
    i will voice my discontent if i think something is not up to “my” standards of the civilized, that is equal and not discriminating, internet exchange too
    Posted by read at July 18, 2013 09:30 PM
    what, Mongolian is banned from here? i get i am banned deserved or it is disputable cz it is unjust and dishonest imo, but even our books? that’s beyond any limits, of even internet banning
    you say first such things then get all oh so insulted when i protest rightfully provoked or not
    Posted by read at July 18, 2013 04:01 PM
    britannica.com/topic/389402/Mongolian-literature
    hope one can find a book to read from there
    Posted by read at July 18, 2013 04:42 PM
    Posted by read at July 18, 2013 09:53 PM
    Posted by read at July 20, 2013 10:09 AM

  7. I thought we had a deal, read. I asked you to leave me alone, and you agreed. You asked me to remove a comment, and I did so. Now you’re back: why? This is not a public venue, it’s my private blog, and you have no inherent right to be here. Furthermore, you don’t seem to enjoy it here; all you do is complain. I honestly don’t understand—don’t you have better things to do with your life?
    I ask you again: please honor our agreement and leave me alone.

  8. good, as long as you dont delete my comments, we have a deal, surely i will try to not bother you too often, but hopefully you see my point in the above comments why i commented this time
    about your blog being not a public venue and my not having an inherent right to comment here, you are right, when you say this to all your other commenters too, not me alone, i wonder how that sounds said to other commenters as well and would you say such unwelcoming things to any other commenter except me, and for what, for being honest and straightforward expressing my opinions? that’s what “I” can’t get and accept and that’s why i keep protesting, hope you understand
    cheers!

  9. David Marjanović says:

    read, anything said in public is (in some way or other) said to everyone.

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