For the past three years or so, I’ve been working on a project on my library to fill in the gaps in our literature collection—gaps like Africa, the Middle East, etc. This is a bigger challenge than you might think because it involves so much research. I’ve gotten used to putting aside some of my work time to look for obscure (to Americans) book prizes or scour literary magazines for listings of books in translation. I haven’t thought about how hard this project is until I listened to episode #83 of The Readers podcast.
Episode #83 was published last fall, but I listened to it because it’s become my habit to listen to the backfiles of podcasts I’ve just discovered and loved. In this episode, the hosts Simon Savidge and Thomas Otto were discussing the news that the Man Booker Prize would start accepting submissions by American writers. As they spoke about the English language hegemony, the challenge of finding out about good books from the rest of the world popped back into my head. It’s easy to learn about new books published in English. There is a dedicated press and lots of bloggers that cover new books published in America, Canada, and England. I have no idea where to begin when it comes to finding book news in the rest of the world.
Occasionally, The New York Times or The London Review of Books and other places will mention who won the various Prix Goncourts. The Nobels always bring my attention to non-English writers I’ve never heard of, but they only choose one author a year and that’s not enough for my purposes.
If anyone knows of a place to find international book news, I would love to hear about it. I am frequently reminded that my chosen sources and books are only showing me part of the world. I want to read about the rest of the globe.