The OF Blog: Appropriation or Assimilation?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Appropriation or Assimilation?

Interesting post made a week ago on the World SF News Blog. I wish I had more time to say something on this, but a combination of a nasty cold and (now) insomnia has left my brain rather dead these past three days. What I would have said in many more words than what follows is this:

Using any modes of communication to further a writing or to develop a dialogue can be a good thing. However, I would like to think that a writer, especially one of a non-gringo background, ought to come to own those communication modes in his/her writings. Just don't write stories set in an imagined McDonald's world if the setting and more importantly the characters do not fit in that schema. I, as a nominal gringo who isn't monolingual or even monocultural any more, would love to read stories in which the frissons between characters, setting, and presumed dominant cultural mode are explored. Roberto Bolaño did this in many of his novels and the Crack Manifesto and McOndoistas of Mexico and South America have developed this to greater heights. I want more of this. I want to see my native culture examined from an "outsider's" perspective. Vanilla is bad. Slavish reproductions of artistic works rarely results in anything of merit. Just give me something to read that's reflective of the writer's (and perhaps that writer's culture) reaction to the cultural modes of communication. That's what I love to read, plus for SF writers, I would imagine it would make for even stronger works of fiction, regardless of the idiom in which the story is told.

But what do I know? I just learn languages to understand better various cultures that interest me. I'd love to have a reason to learn Swahili, Vietnamese, Malay, etc. Just point me in the right path and I'll see what I can do.

Of course, right now the thing I'll do first is go to bed, as 4.5 hours of sleep is never fun when working, especially on Mondays after holiday breaks.


E. L. Fay said...

Wow, I never considered any of that. I've read quite a bit of translated literary fiction, but I've never come across translated genre fiction. If you can think of anything, that would be great. Since a lot of sci-fi/fantasy conventions apparently came from American culture (which never occurred to me), I'm curious to see what other people in other countries have come up with.

Also: I came across this book excerpt on LiveJournal. It's from a fantasy novel called Silk and Steel by Ron Miller. Basically, if these few pages are any indication, it consists of the purplest prose ever written. Which has me wondering - is it real for real? Have you ever heard of this book?

Larry said...

Andreas Eschbach's The Carpet Makers was translated from the German in 2005. Andrzej Sapkowski's The Last Wish and Blood of Elves were originally published in Polish. Maurice Dantec's Cosmos, Inc. was originally in French. I also have an anthology of Russian genre fiction, called Worlds Apart, edited by Alexander Levitsky.

In addition, I have reviewed Spanish and Portuguese genre fiction when read in their original idioms. Javier Negrete is a personal favorite, along with José Saramago.

Furthermore, a friend of mine who comments here on occasion, Fábio Fernandes, is from Brazil and last year he sent me two anthologies and a novella where stories of his appear. His English-language site is Post-Weird Thoughts. He's one that I suspect the linked article above will make him want to read it and perhaps comment at length upon it, since I believe he's started to write English-language fiction in order to increase his chances of being published more widely.

As for the Miller book, I've heard of the book, but haven't read any excerpts. Will look at that shortly.

Add to Technorati Favorites