Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Foreign writers and settings

I remember years ago my favorite author, Harlan Ellison, had a commentary on the SCIFI channel show (I think it was called SCiFI buzz).  The channel was new and exciting (for me) at the time.  Now of course, it is SYFY and not nearly as interesting.  But that isnt my point.  On one of his commentary's he lamented the state of American publishing in the SCIFI and Fantasy genres.  And besides the fact that everything was supposed to be a trilogy following the same formulas, the point he really was making was the lack of publishing the amazing writers in other countries.  Americans apparently don't much like reading non-american writers.  Or at least publishers believe that. 

Now it is at least 15 years or so later and its pretty much the same.  Not just SCIFI but all genres.  Let's face it, when is the last time you read a book by say, an Austrian author?  You know they have many great ones but I know I cant name a single one.  And that is sad.

This is a huge world with huge stories to tell - stories that might be awesome but that we have no exposure to.  Now, I will say that ONE series broke that mold recently and that is the Stieg Larsson series.  And that is a good thing.  It would be nice if it inspired publishers to look for other possible international writers to bring to us.

It happens occassionally.  Personally I love Jose Saramago (Portugal).  But normally you have to really seek out foreign writers.  Last year I read a turkish writer (name not coming at the moement) with a mystery series set in the gay/transvestite (officially non-existent) community.  And I read a mystery set in China (by a Chinese American author) that gave me insight into the communist society there that I had no clue into prior.  And those are fiction.  Non-fiction I am reading The Cultures of the World teen series and I read Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced (a very sad story) last year.

The world is full of interesting cultures and societies and I would love to see more of it in literature.  So this year, I am actively seeking to read a lot more "foriegn" authors and books set in foreign lands.  I am not counting the UK in this challenge because that is the one exception that we do seem to have on the topic. We have lots of great British authors over here.

So if you have suggestions let me know.  And join me in my challenge if you feel inspired!


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