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The World Lit Conundrum

A recent article in Rueters looks at unsuccessful efforts by the Chinese literary culture to have their works considered abroad. Lack of background knowledge to fully be able to understand/appreciate the works as well as lack of English translators are cited as a couple reasons for this continued struggle. What books do get recognized? Mostly those which are banned in China; not necessarily the strongest examples of Chinese literature, but they get the translations and readership because of the controversy. Though, if the US is still showing a decline in readership for its own literature, what hope do other countries have in finding recognition here?

And an interesting counter or alter-perspective to this article is “Author, Author: The World of ‘world’ Literature” in which Pankaj Mishra comments on “literary cosmopolitanism” – in relation to Karl Marx and Susan Sontag (of all pairings) – and the rise of India as a force in the book world: “Cultural palates in this flattened world can only be progressively homogenised. Whether attempting social or magical realism, literary writers also become increasingly subject to market realism.”

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