JOST A MON

The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Jul 18, 2013

Ambition

You know, here I thought I was a fairly ambitious sort of chap, reading every book in the fiction shelves of my local library. (Yeah, thin books, but still.) I thought this would introduce me to a world of writing I had never considered, imagined, or encountered in my life. To be honest, it did, kind of. Many of the books were duds. Some were absolutely brilliant. But if I thought that was ambitious, I didn't reckon with true ambition.

I present you with the enthusiastic blog of a woman who decided to spend 2012 reading a book from e v e r y  c o u n t r y  i n  t h e  w o r l d. Every freakin' country. That's 196 countries, and South Sudan set itself up as the latest even as the readathon was going on. Many books were not even available in English translation, so she tweeted and facebooked and managed to organise teams of translators to do the work for her. She read and read and begged and encouraged and had time to blog  about each book and get engaged as well. I'm beside myself in envy and awe.

Now that that record's been achieved, what is left for the likes of me except to pick up the dribs and drabs? My imagination fails me. But how about a book from every language in India? Papua New Guinea? Indonesia? If not a book, maybe a short story? A poem? Perhaps at least a listen of a song? Or a watch of a movie? How many languages are we talking?

9 comments:

Paridhi said...

Thanks for sharing the blog! :-)

Anonymous said...

Quite gratifying that she picked a book by MT for Malayalam.

Nandana

Fëanor said...

@Paridhi: so, are you following her footsteps? That list should keep you going for a year, eh?

@Nandana: Indeed. I'm just trying to think of someone who's not as well known, though, and failing, because clearly I don't know any Malayalam authors who are not well-known. Hmm...

parmanu.com said...

Mixed feelings on this. How is this different, I wonder, from the guy who visited all Starbucks outlets around the world? Is this more appealing to some of us because of the literary nature of the enterprise? I see it as a publicity gimmick, which takes a private activity like reading and makes it something else.

I loved your 200 books exercise. Part of the reason, I realize now, was that there was the sense that you were doing it for yourselves, publishing some responses in your own quiet corner of the Internet. If you'd turned up on the BBC, or had tried to market this enterprise and received a hundred comments on each post, I would have liked it less. A personal preference, yes. (And perhaps a selfish one too, when one doesn't want one's favourite writer to be discovered by many others.)

Fëanor said...

Nandana: Indeed! Although when I think about Malayalam literature, I don't seem to be able to go much beyond the Ithihyamala...

Parmanu: Thanks for the thoughtful comments! I think there is a difference in scope between the Starbucks programme and reading a world of books not just because of the latter's literary merit, but because of its scope: few texts are translated into English and this woman persuaded people to do several; it was collaborative, with ideas pouring in from people passionate about their favourites; there is an idea of discovery of literature in languages that most people would never encounter. Publicity for such a venture is good if it introduces new readers to otherwise little-known authors, surely?

parmanu.com said...

Surely!

Anonymous said...

Really? Randamoozham is a favourite. I can lend you a copy of Higuita if you are interested BTW.

Nandana

Fëanor said...

Nandana: very kind of you - is it an English translation? I can't read the mother tongue, I'm sad to say. How'll you lend it to me, though? Are you in London?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm in London. It's not a translation though. Bummer..

Nandana

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