When I was working on my Master’s degree, I took a world literature class in which we read books by Anita Desai (Indian), Khaled Hosseini (Afghan-born American), and Edna O’Brien (Irish). I’ve also engaged with more popular and award-winning authors, like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigerian) and Jhumpa Lahiri (American of Indian origin). Nevertheless, I really haven’t read much by authors from outside of American and British traditions. I need to change this!
Over the last two years, I’ve done research in India. I visited Chennai, Pune, Agra, and Delhi (and spoke to people from Hyderabad) in July 2016. I went back to share findings with my Indian colleagues in December 2017 in Bangalore. I’ve been fascinated by the people, the traditions, the culture, and the country. I want to read more literature by Indian authors like Anita Desai.
In a few months, I will visit South Africa to do archival research on women’s organizations. I’m excited to visit and learn more. In the meantime, I’ve been reading a lot of scholarly articles and contextualizing books to introduce me to the country. As part of that, I want to read some of the literature from that part of the world as well.
Here are the intriguing books I’ve found to read so far.
Are there other authors I should familiarize myself with? Who am I missing?
Over the last year I read (Africa in general)and recommend “A Bend in the River”, V.S. Naipaul; “Things Fall Apart”, Chinua Achebe; and “Cry, the Beloved Country” Alan Paton
V. S. Naipaul is on my list for sure. I bought some of his books this summer at some used bookstores, so it looks like I need to get around to cracking them open! 🙂 Thank you for all of the suggestions.
I remember taking a French lit. course (translation) in college and reading Balzac and Flaubert, Zola, Camus, and Sartre. I was amazed I had never heard of these writers. I was even more amazed when I started working at Alcorn State, an Historically Black University, in 1972, and reading for the first time, Earnest Gaines, Ralph Ellison, Gwendolyn Brooks, James Baldwin and many other Black Writers that my college courses, grad and undergrad, had simply ignored. Now, I’m happy to admit, things have greatly changed since I was an undergrad student in Tennessee. 🙂
While we do fuss and fume over internet and social media, I have to say Amazon, with all its faults, has definitely opened up the world of literature to folks who otherwise would never see international works.
I meet persons from other cultures on my blog and get titles of novels and then order them from Amazon. In the past year I’ve read The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, (I see you have Interpreter of Maladies by the same) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Snow Flower and The Secret Fan by Chinese author Lisa See, and of course tons of Japanese works.
Your trip to South Africa sounds wonderful. Unfortunately I can’t do much for you there. I’ve only read Achebe…how sad is that. Thank you, Emily, for this excellent post. Have a great trip.
Thank you, Paul. I’m hoping to learn more while I’m traveling about the literature there. I do have a colleague at my university who is from South Africa, so I should probably ask her as well! She would be the perfect source since she’s a literature professor. 🙂
Definitely read The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. She finally has a new book out that I didn’t like as much. Jhumpa Lahiri is good, but she tends to write about Indian immigrants to the United States. Some of the other recommendations you’ve already gotten are excellent. I loved Cry the Beloved Country, even though it’s not that relevant to current life in South Africa anymore.
These are great suggestions! I’ve read Lahiri and Cry the Beloved Country, but I never did read The God of Small Things. I’ll check it out. I know everybody loves it!
I visited India earlier this year and since then have been reading a lot of Indian writers – Tishani Doshi, Meena Kandesamy, Preti Taneja and Vivek Shanbag.
Ooh, I haven’t heard of these writers. Thanks for the info!
I’m afraid I can’t be much help here, but good luck finding new books and authors. I’ll be interested in hearing about what you decide to read!
Thank you! It looks like there are some great suggestions in this thread!
Hey Emily. I thought that this listicle would be helpful/ http://www.bookshybooks.com/2014/07/50-books-by-african-women-that-everyone.html. From the list I would highly recommend Mariama Ba’s So Long A Letter which is considered a classic. I read it a few years ago and it has stayed with me. More recently, I have enjoyed A Moonless Starless Sky by Alexis Okeowo, a non-fiction book that deals with modern slavery, war and human rights.
Oh my goodness! Thank you so much! These are amazing suggestions. I can’t wait to try them. And thanks for the link!
Great to know that you like to know Indian culture and its literature. I assure you that a wide world of new knowledge will adorn in your shelf.
I would like to recommend you the works of Ravindranath Tagore who won the Nobel price for his outstanding literary work, Gitanjali. I also like to recommend you ‘The Crescent Moon’
‘Little children run out of temple, and play in the dust.
God watches their game, forgetting the priest’.
– Ravindranath Tagore.
Thank you for this recommendation. I really appreciate it!
Wow! I’ve just stumbled upon this post and it has totally inspired me. I am a huge advocate of reading, but this post has motivated me to expand the variety of books that I read. Thank you for sharing. – Letstalkaboutpersonaldevelopment.blog
I am so glad to hear this. I hope you discover some great new authors!