“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin
Introduction – or Rather “Once Upon A Time”
Once upon a time, there was a blogger, poet, and English undergrad named Nissie-Grace, who spent her evenings surfing the net – as all real princesses did. Suddenly she stumbled upon a video which presented her with a challenge – no, a quest. She was to read a few books from every continent to widen her knowledge of world literature.
Lol okay enough of that literary trope. However, a) have you ever thought about what the phrase “once upon a time” actually means? and b) welcome to the blog post and page about the Seaofknees International Reading Challenge 2020 inspired by Ann Morgan.
(The answer to a) is a bit nerdy and will only turn on the real linguists amongst us so click http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-onc1.htm for more info.)
But anyways, back in 2017, I saw the TED talk above in my suggestions of videos I should watch. I watched it and was kinda surprised by several things a) how open and honest Ann Morgan was about her ignorance b) how little I knew about world literature and how small my reading pool was and finally c) how open the rest of the world were to helping her achieve this task. Now I tried to read the world in 2019 but I didn’t take it seriously and also just didn’t have the time. But we learn from our mistakes around here. So what I’ve chosen to do, is narrow it down to 5/6 countries per continent this year and keep doing the same each year until I’ve read the world. This whole post is an introduction to my journey of a year reading the world but on a much smaller scale because:
So to begin, I put each continent in a random generator and it came up with the countries. Then I asked twitter to help me to find books from those countries which was absolutely useless but that’s okay 😂 we tried. I ended up deciding to use Ann Morgan’s book list to start with and then take a lot of time to research the countries that I couldn’t find in her list but also just create my own list as I get used to reading foreign texts. Here’s what we have so far:
- Thailand 🇹🇭 Chart Korbjitti, translated from the Thai by Marcel Barang – Time: a Thai Novel
- Singapore 🇸🇬 Su-Chen Christine Lim – Fistful of Colours
- Qatar 🇶🇦 Abdul Aziz Al Mahmoud, translated from the Arabic by Amira Nowaira – The Corsair
- Philippines 🇵🇭 Marivi Soliven – The Mango Bride
- Brunei 🇧🇳 Christopher Sun (aka Sun Tze Yun) – Four Kings
- Hong Kong 🇭🇰 No text yet
- Congo 🇨🇬 Emmanuel Dongala – Johnny Mad Dog
- Namibia 🇳🇦 Neshani Andreas – The Purple Violet of Oshaantu
- Cameroon 🇨🇲 Mongo Beti – La Pauvre Christ de Bomba (The Poor Christ of Bomba)
- Morocco 🇲🇦 Tahar Ben Jelloun – The Sand Child
- Eritrea 🇪🇷 Sulaiman Addonia – The Comsequences of Love
- Spain 🇪🇸 Javier Cercas (trans. Anne McClean) – The Anatomy of a Moment
- Netherlands 🇳🇱 Harry Mulisch – The Discovery of Heaven
- Andorra 🇦🇩 Albert Salvadó – The Teacher of Cheops
- Iceland 🇮🇸 Arnaldur Indridason – Jar City
- Romania 🇷🇴 Herta Müller – The Passport
- Papua New Guinea 🇵🇬 Russell Soaba – Maiba
- Wallis and Futuna 🇼🇫 No text yet
- Kiribati 🇰🇮 Teweiariki Teaero – Waa in Storms
- French Polynesia 🇵🇫 No text yet
- Marshall Islands 🇲🇭 Ed Daniel Kelin – Marshall Islands Legends and Stories
- Samoa 🇼🇸 Lani Wendt Young – Telesa: The Covenant Keeper
- Argentina 🇦🇷 Martin Kohan – Seconds Out
- Venezuela 🇻🇪 Federico Vegas’ – Falke (yet to find translated version)
- Chile 🇨🇱 Alejandro Zambra – The Private Lives of Trees
- French Guiana 🇬🇫 No text yet
- Uruguay 🇺🇾 Horacio Quiroga – The Decapitated Chicken
- Falkland Islands 🇫🇰 No text yet
- Belize 🇧🇿 Zoila Ellis – On Heroes Lizards and Passion
- United States 🇺🇸 literally anything? (I’ll put one in later sksksk)
- Saint Kitts and Nevis 🇰🇳 Bertram Roach – Only God Can Make a Tree
- Jamaica 🇯🇲 Brian Meeks – Paint the Town Red
- Saint Vincent and The Grenadines 🇻🇨 H. Nigel Thomas – Behind the Face of Winter
- Dominican Republic 🇩🇴 Junot Diaz – The Wonderous Brief Life of Oscar Wao
About the list…
Now most of these I found from Ann Morgan’s “A year of reading the world” blog https://ayearofreadingtheworld.com/thelist/. But this is just a basic list to get me off my feet since I’ve never tried this before. As I do go on, however, I hope to be able to add texts of my own, from my own research but also with your help (whoever’s willing). The countries that have “No text yet” besides them are countries that Morgan didn’t do which already provides me with a bit of a challenge.
The next steps for me are obviously to order some of the books and get reading. But also to do loads more research around each of the countries, especially those that I’d never heard of before or have no basic information about.
I’ll be blogging about as many texts as I possibly can and will dedicate a whole page on my blog just to this reading challenge. I’ll also add the specifics like where to buy each book and how hard/easy it was to find as well as how challenging it may or may not be to get a hold of translated copies.
I hope some of you will join me on this journey – I’m nervous but inspired and excited to widen my knowledge of world literature.
So keep an eye on my blog and wish me luck. I’ve got 34 books to buy and read and blog about this year 🙃🤞🏾and at some point I really do hope to get in contact with Ann Morgan… we’ll see 🌚