Change is comin’

I have come to the conclusion that I’m stuck in a rut. I get up in the morning at the same time, follow the same routine–right down to watching the same TV shows when I knit, and doing laundry on the same day every week. Who is this person I’ve become? What happened to the spontaneous, interesting “me” who had things to talk about? Took road trips on a moment’s notice? Read great literature? Went places at night? Oh yes–I had kids.Well.

All worth it, of course, blahblahplatitude, but I’m still boring myself to death. I need a change. After some thought, I’ve decided the easiest answer lies in what I’ve been reading. I haven’t read anything that stretched me or made me laugh or, heck, even grabbed my interest in at least six months. It’s really sad.

Lately, I’ve been chatting about books with my friend Trina on her blog, An Old Flame. Reading a couple of her posts has made me realize just how pasty-white my literary experience has been all these years. I went to college at a first-rate university, no denying that. As an English major, I read all kinds of English and American lit, and diversity of time periods I got. But racial diversity? Not so much. There was some Langston Hughes, some Maya Angelou, some James Weldon Johnson in there. But, er…regarding any other cultures? Well, let’s just say that if the Leatherstocking Tales were in any way representative of the Native American experience, then I’m Natty Bumpo. (Also, that is some CRAPPY excuse for literature. Whew.)

Since then, I’ve read plenty of Chinese- and Japanese-American lit, but no actual Asian literature, and I find myself lately fascinated with India. There must be some good Indian authors out there, no? But how to go about finding them? I think I’m headed on a quest.

Trina’s pointed me in the direction of Africa, and Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, who wrote Things Fall Apart, which is my next to-read book. I’ve also got The Color Purple on my list. I really don’t know how I’ve managed to miss that one all these years. I’m going to go back and pick up Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, as well. I started it, but right on the heels of another book (poorly written) that had coincidentally been about exactly the same subject, so I put Balzac aside. Written by a Chinese author, however, and highly recommended, I think its time has come.

Thus begins my multicultural literary experience. If anyone has any good recommendations, please feel free to pass them along!

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4 thoughts on “Change is comin’

  1. How awesome is this! I’d love to join you on this venture. My reading is keeping me sane right now, which is why I started blogging. The blogging keeps me on track and makes me accountable on this little venture of mine. I had gotten so far away from myself as well.

    XOXO

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  2. I was on a similar quest a couple of years ago and found a great collection of short stories published for the first time in English, from writers all over the world: China, South Korea, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Nigeria . . . The name of the collection is Words without Borders: The World Through the Eyes of Writers, edited by Schnee, Mason, and Felman. Confession: I didn’t read all the stories. But now you’ve got me motivated to go back through the book and do more exploring.

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  3. I think most of the Indian authors I’ve read are Indian-American or Anglo-Indian. Arundhati Roy is Indian, though (and Pam’s cousin!). She wrote The God of Small Things. I enjoyed it, but Jon and I think Tomio both loathed it.

    I recently read the Professor and the Housekeeper, which is by a Japanese author. And Murakami is a great Japanese author who is easy to find in US bookstores. (Kazuo Ishiguro is a great Anglo-Japanese author).

    I took a class on migrant literature in college (by Ha Jin–I can’t remember if he writes in English or Chinese, but he’s great), and we read a lot of stuff by first and second generation immigrants from various cultures and countries.

    I like to check out top 10 and top 100 lists, and see who is winning things like the Booker prize or the Nobel Prize.

    Oh, and I just finished The Bone People. It’s set in New Zealand, and written by a part Maori author. The three main characters are a part-Maori (but mostly European) woman, a part-Maori (mostly Maori) man, and the white boy that the man has adopted. It was interesting to read, and to learn more about a culture I don’t know anything about. It’s easy to think of NZ as being “just another Commonwealth,” and therefore practically English, but they have a strong Maori influence in the country.

    And if you have Netflix, you could branch out more in your viewing habits–they have a good foreign film selection.

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  4. What a great idea, Jen. I need to join Goodreads and keep tabs on what you’re reading. As a journalism major, I didn’t get nearly the breadth of literature you did. I started Missing Mom by Joyce Carol Oates during our vacation and I’m about 50 pages from the end and really like it. Although JCO is often heavy and painful and this one is no exception, but so well written.

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