March 16, 2008
Winter showed its stormy face yesterday with a mixture of hail, thunder and lightening, and a couple of inches of wet snow. This morning the sun is out and the snow is melting. March is like this – it can’t seem to make up its mind whether to be spring or winter.
Given the unsettled weather yesterday, I was happy to find my latest edition of World Literature Today in my mailbox. The March-April issue is all about globalization and its impact on literature – a fascinating subject. The editor of WLT – David Clark – notes:
Within the past decade, especially, we have witnessed the emergence of greater numbers of transnational authors who were born, say, in one country, educated in another, and currently reside in yet a third. Many speak and/or write in more than one language.
I was especially interested to read the article titled: Migration, Globalization, and Recent African Literature, by Tanure Ojaide. Ojaide compares the older African writers who are living in the West and steep their writing in folklore with heroic and nostalgic references to older times, with that of the post-1960 born Africans (such as Chris Abani and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) who focus on themes more critical to African history and are often violent. The article references work by Uzodinma Iweala, as well as Abani and Adichie. Ojaide concludes:
By virtue of living outside their African homeland and in the West in an age of globalization, there are changes in subject matter, themes, style, and form in the various genres in which the writers engage themselves.
When I decided to read the world, I thought it would be easy to categorize books by geographic area by simply noting where the author lived. But globalization made me rework my categories and expand my definition of a work. I try to pick literature which represents the country – either by the author’s nationality, or by setting. How do you classify a work geographically?
In other reading “news” I finished reading both The Gathering (see my review) and The Story of Forgetting (see my review) this past week. Both astonishing novels which I can recommend. Feeling like I needed a change of pace, I am now reading a publisher’s copy of The Secret Scroll, by Ronald Cutler. It is a religious suspense-thriller set in Israel and I’m about half way through it. I’m afraid I have a tendency to compare the writing of Cutler to a brilliant, award-winning author like Enright…and Cutler loses the “competition” hands down. But, as a work of genre fiction, it is okay. I should finish it this afternoon.