On my quest for multicultural literature

It’s been a little over a month since I announced my determination to make a change in my reading, and I’m pleased to be able to say that I’ve done fairly well. In that time, I’ve read:

  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • (attempted) The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

Oh, and also The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Well, a girl needs a little light reading here and there!

Of this multicultural smattering, I think I found Things Fall Apart the most challenging to read from a culture-shift standpoint, but I also found it the most rewarding. The book was extraordinarily well-written–Achebe’s prose is spare, but clear, emotive without being effusive, and yet still clearly evocative of a very specific place and time. I thoroughly enjoyed his characters, and the fact that the piece, while politically motivated, didn’t feel at all forced or like propeganda. It seemed to be simply the pure beliefs of an author woven into novel form.

I enjoyed the others well enough, but I will admit that I struggled with The God of Small Things and gave it up before giving it much of a chance. It wasn’t the content at all, really, but the execution–I was really distracted by Roy’s use of concocted adjectives and (clearly purposefully) bizarre sentence structure. As an editor, I just couldn’t focus on the story, and kept wanting to break out my red pen…so I finally just chucked it and moved on. Maybe someday when I’m feeling more patient? Or maybe just some other book.

I have enjoyed my little experiment thus far, though. Interestingly, apart from Achebe, I really haven’t found much difference between the Anglo- and American-(whatever) writers I’m so familiar with and those who have been translated from their original languages. I like that. It’s been a bit of a nice revelation to discover that, though our experiences in life may be extraordinarily disparate, the emotions and relationships that make up our lives are still very much the same. In retrospect, it shouldn’t have been all that surprising.


One thought on “On my quest for multicultural literature

  1. I love this and don’t mind if I link back to you in a post this week. How exciting. Perhaps we can put our heads together and write some joint posts having to do multicultural literature from our mutual affection for one another teamed with our vastly different backgrounds. That could be powerful and I would be so into that!


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