Saturday, April 5, 2014

Read the world... Proportionally!

I recently got ticked off over a "Read the World" list that was still really centred on Western books. Then I started thinking: what if there were a reading list of 100 books that reflected the actual demographics of the world population of 7.152 billion people right now?

Thus, behold my Listchallenge.



 Here are:

19 books from China;
17 from India;
4 from the US;
3 from Indonesia, Brazil and Pakistan;
2 from Nigeria, Bangladesh, Japan and Mexico, and
1 each from the Philippines, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Egypt, Germany, Iran, Turkey, DRC, Thailand, France, UK, Italy, Burma, South Africa, South Korea, Colombia, Spain, Ukraine, Tanzania, Kenya, Argentina, Algeria, Poland, Sudan, Uganda, Canada, Iraq, Morocco, Peru, Uzbekistan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nepal, Afghanistan, Yemen, North Korea, Ghana, Mozambique, Australia and Taiwan.

50 books are by men. 49 are by women.1 is a work of divine revelation.

Authors (roughly) reflect the ethnic makeup of their nations – e.g. the South African author is Black, not white; the Malaysian author is Malay, not Chinese; one of the PRC authors is non-Han Chinese; one of the American authors is non-white.

I've tried to represent a range of historical periods and the most acclaimed writers in each section. Writers presented are those widely available in English - this is why Ding Ling, Zhang Yueran and Akka Mahadevi weren't featured: because it's really hard to find their work. Also, a writer is only of a nationality if s/he's got/had citizenship of the area at some point - i.e. Jhumpa Lahiri is American, not Indian.

Sure, I know this list is problematic – smaller countries, like those of the Caribbean and Oceania, are kind of wiped out. But I'm open to change this. So send in your suggestions for changes if you’ve got them!

And remember: if you're gonna read the world, you might as well do it RIGHT.

Full list of books:

CHINA
The Analects of Confucius
The Tao Te Ching of Lao Zi
The Art of War by Sun Zi
The Poems of Li Qingzhao
The Journey to the West by Wu Cheng En
Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin
The Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Shi Naian
Selected Stories of Lu Xun
Rickshaw Boy by Lao She
The Dyer’s Daughter by Xiao Hong
Love in a Fallen City by Eileen Chang
Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian
The Republic of Wine by Mo Yan
The Girl Who Played Go by Shan Sa
Red Azalea by Anchee Min
The Song of Everlasting Sorrow by Wang Anyi
Daughter of the River by Hong Ying
Wild Swans by Jung Chang
The Good Women of China by Xinran

INDIA
The Ramayana of Valmiki
The Mahabharata by Vyasa
The Dhammapada of Buddha
The Kural of Tiruvalluvar
The Story of My Experiments With Truth by Mohandas K. Gandhi
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor
Five Point Someone: What Not to Do at IIT by Chetan Bhagat
A River Sutra by Gita Mehta
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Breast Stories by Mahasweta Devi
Fasting, Feasting by Anita Desai
Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni 
Spouse: The Truth About Marriage by Shobhaa De 
Moving On by Shashi Deshpande

USA
The Poems of Emily Dickinson
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald,
Beloved by Toni Morrison

INDONESIA

Letters from A Javanese Princess by Raden Adjeng Kartini
This Earth of Mankind by Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Saman by Ayu Utami

BRAZIL
Dom Casmurro by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis
Dona Flor and her Two Husbands by Jorge Amado
The Hours of the Star by Clarice Lispector

PAKISTAN
Songs of Blood and Sword by Fatima Bhutto
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif

NIGERIA
Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamande Ngozi Adichie

BANGLADESH
Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore
The Good Muslim by Tahmima Anam

RUSSIA
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The Poems of Anna Akhmatova

JAPAN

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

MEXICO
The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

PHILIPPINES
Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco

VIETNAM
When Heaven and Earth Changed Places by Le Ly Hayslip

ETHIOPIA
Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengiste

EGYPT
Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz

GERMANY
The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt

IRAN
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

TURKEY
My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
The Congo: From Leopold to Kabila: A People's History by Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja

THAILAND
Letters from Thailand by Botan

FRANCE
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

UK
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

ITALY
The Aeneid by Virgil

BURMA
Letters from Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi

SOUTH AFRICA
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

SOUTH KOREA
Please Look After Mother by Kyung Sook Shin

COLOMBIA
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

SPAIN
The Life of St Teresa of Avila by Herself 

UKRAINE
The White Guard by Mikail Bulgakhov

TANZANIA
Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurnah

KENYA
Devil on the Cross by Ngugi wa’Thiongo

ARGENTINA
The Topless Tower by Silvina Ocampo 

ALGERIA
Fantasia: An Algerian Calvacade by Assia Djebar

POLAND
The Poems of Wislawa Szymborska

SUDAN
Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih

UGANDA
Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol by Okot p’Bitek

CANADA
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

IRAQ
The Poems of Rabia Basri

MOROCCO
Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami

PERU
The Time of the Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa

UZBEKISTAN
The Dancer from Khiva by Bibish

MALAYSIA
Kampung Boy by Lat

SAUDI ARABIA
The Quran

VENEZUELA
Doña Inés vs. Oblivion by Ana Teresa Torres

NEPAL
The End of the World by Sushma Joshi

AFGHANISTAN
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

YEMEN
I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali

NORTH KOREA
Eyes of the Tailless Animals by Soon Ok Lee

GHANA
Changes by Ama Ata Adoo

MOZAMBIQUE
Neighbours: A Story of a Murder by Lília Momplé

AUSTRALIA
Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

TAIWAN
Notes of a Desolate Man by Chu Ti'en-Wen

2 comments:

biblioglobal said...

I love the idea of making a proportional list! I had thought about how Oceania and the Caribbean are over-represented in terms of population and wondered how many books set in China one would need to read in order to be proportional to population. Now I know!

Since you say you're looking for suggestions, one thought would be to choose more books for India which were originally written in various Indian languages, as opposed to English.

bookertalk.com said...

We share an interest in reading around the world. We have some titles in common also. Some of the countries on my list are proving really elusive in terms of finding books in English. If you ever hear of anything from Burkina Faso let me know.

Karen - www.bookertalk.com