The OF Blog: International fiction

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

International fiction

A few related points (and links) to share in a brief post before I resume getting ready for work:

This weekend, I was pointed to a couple of posts on's site written by authors Brian Francis Slattery and Jo Walton (with a second, related post by Slattery on Arab-American literary exchange). Each of them dealt with the issue of SF that isn't that of an Anglo-American flavor. The discussions are quite interesting (and I participated a bit in both, but not as much as I would have wished due to quite a few work-related projects I'm doing right now) and I encourage others to check them out.

In addition, you'll notice a few additions to my Non-English section of the blogroll. Thanks to Argentine author/editor Sergio Gaut vel Hartman for providing me with those links to Spanish-language fictions, especially that of the microfiction variety that I like to read on occasion.

Yesterday, I received my first shipment from Weird Tales after I finally remembered that I wanted to subscribe to it. To my surprise and joy, it took less than two weeks for it to be processed and I received the issue I feared I wouldn't receive due to my tardiness in subscribing: The September/October 2008 issue is subtitled "The International Fiction Special," and it contains short stories by Zoran Živković (astute readers will remember my love for his "suites"), Sara Genge, Nir Yaniv, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Juraj Červenák, Chiles Samaniego, and Alistair Rennie, as well as an excerpt from Ekaterina Sedia's excellent 2008 novel, The Alchemy of Stone. Time permitting, I'll try to have a mini-review of this and future issues every so often.

Finally, I have a few orders outstanding that ought to be arriving soon. I browsed again through the Reading the World 2008 website and chose books by Elias Khoury, António Lobo Antunes, and Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar. In addition, I also bought newer fictions by Jorge Volpi Escalante and Romulo Gallego that I hope to have by the end of the month.

So...anyone care to comment on the state of "international" (i.e. non-Anglo-American) literature? Or perhaps to recommend even more authors to me, particularly Latin American authors outside the Boom Generation? I'm somewhat familiar with the Crack Manifesto and McOndo writers, but am very willing to expand my reading horizons in Spanish and perhaps Portuguese (although that'll involve a few struggles for me here and there).


Wm. said...

Don't forget to check out La feria internacional del libro de Guadalajara.

It's a treasure horde of Latin American literature. A bibliophile's paradise.

Lsrry said...

Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!

Do I need to translate for English monolinguals to understand? :P Thanks for the info!

Anonymous said...

Quimicamente impuro te l'avevo segnalato io a suo tempo,però...

I've read the discussions on,and realized that,apart for a few classics here and there,the sf/f I read nearly always comes from the English speaking world.

Regarding "literary" the situation is different-but here is comparatively easier to get hold of translations from France, Germany,Latin America,and there are small presses who specialize in translations from Eastern Europe,Scandinavia,Israel and the Arabic World.
Obviously not everything is translated,but I don't feel the need to discover whether some hidden jewel has slipped through the net.

Returning to genre,I'm a big fan of crime fiction also,and it is striking how much more international it is in comparison to sf/f -you can find authors from Slovenia,Greece,Turkey,Brazil,Cuba-and independent publishers like Bitter Lemon,Serpent's Tail,Akashkic translate a lot of good international crime fiction in English.

One author from my own country I'd heartily recommend to you , expecially given your interest in
immigration,is Amara Lakhous.
His novel "Clash of Civilizations over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio" has just been translated,and there's an excerpt of the novel and a very interesting interview with him in the latest issue of Worlds Without Borders.


Lsrry said...

Thanks for the tip, Marco! I'll certainly look for his work shortly.

And it's interesting to learn how each country has their own ratio of imported books to native works for each genre. I can't help but to wonder if in this age of globalization if there might be more immediate cross-cultural exchanges with or without translations. I don't know how it is with Italy, but I have seen quite a bit of discussion in contemporary Latin American novels about the impact, positive and negative alike, that U.S. culture has had on that region. That issue is but a natural outgrowth of the ubiquitous American culture, no?

Charles said...

I guess now would be a good time to plug the Philippine Speculative Fiction Sampler. It's not Latin American literature but hopefully it'll appeal to you (and Rochita and Chiles from Weird Tales are Filipinos).

Wm. said...


Larry, you say it with the same connotation as the word 'Muggles.' =D

Anonymous said...

The influence of American culture thanks to music, films, tv-movies and sitcoms is indeed widespread.
In recent years we've even begun to celebrate Halloween,which has never been part of our tradition before.

The difference in representation between sf/f and crime fiction seems to me to reflect the better adaptability of the latter-you can set a good crime story everywhere,and this leads to a better acceptance of native authors in their domestic market,and therefore the birth of autonomous traditions, which in turn help the translation abroad of major authors-see for example the vast diffusion of Scandinavian crime novels.
Many cultures may have folktales or a tradition of fantastic literature, but classic science-fiction and fantasy are seen as foreign,imported forms -even where they are very successful and there's a thriving community of fans,the domestic market tends to snub native authors-at least that's my impression,even if of late some counterexamples have begun to emerge.

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