Sunday, March 16, 2014

currently reading: One World, global reads & The Danger of a Single Story

"One World" is an attempt to redefine the borders of the world we live in through the short story, (and).. recognizes the many conflicting issues of race, language, economy, gender and ethnicity, which separate and limit us...."

That's the concept of "One World", a book that is both a collection of short stories, and a literary-political initiative. The book features twenty-three stories, each from a different author from across the globe. It includes both well-known and upcoming authors from different backgrounds, and is an excellent read, with uncountable layers of life included - it's a richness of human experience woven into stories. Just like the authors write in their introduction:

"We all belong to one world, united in our diversity and ethnicity. And together they have one aim: to involve and move the reader. We readily acknowledge, however, that regardless of our differences or the disparities in our stories, we are united by our humanity. We invite the reader on a personal journey across continents, countries, cultures and landscapes, to reflect on these beautiful, at times chaotic, renditions on the human experience."

I am still glad I arrived at the book when looking for global short stories. One of the authors included in the book, and probably also one of the authors who parallel to writing for it was working as editor and organizer is Chimamanda Adichie from Nigeria, who won the Orange Prize for Half of a Yellow Sun - a stunning book  about the time of civil war in Nigeria, written from different perspectives (more about it, in my book blog "Half of a Yellow Sun"). The different perspectives are also a theme of her TED talk "The danger of a single story":

Seen from that angle, "One World" is a powerful effort to unite a rich variety of single short stories in one book. Probably unintended, the collection has a focus on African authors, which was a fresh counterbalance to the previous global short story collections i read:  "Be There Now", which includes stories from many places of the world, but mostly by Western authors. 

Looking at the collection from that continental angle brought me back to the world population statistic i put together a while ago, when i joined a global reading challenge, and the question occurred: If you try to read around the world in 7 books, picked in proportion to world population, how would the reading list look like?
Here's a bit from the notes and figures i put together back then:

The world in 7 books (or: mapping our world by continents)

...this isn't news: the world population is now in the range of 7 billion persons. and the continent with the largest population is Asia. what i didn't fully realize, though, is the proportions of the population in relation to continents. if you put Asia in one hand, and all the other continents in the other hand, Asia still would be largest:

7 books
so looking at the world from this angle, if you want to read around the world in 7 books, you actually would have to go and look for 4 books from Asia and 1 book from Africa - and then for 2 anthologies that cover the rest of the world in their pages."

At the same time, Africa is the continent with the least books published. Which makes this collection so special and important. Reading it brought several first times: the first time i read a story written in by an author from Zimbabwe, and from one in Cameroon. Here's the full list of authors with their nationalities:

Elaine Chiew (Malaysia)
Molara Wood (Nigeria)
Jhumpa Lahiri (United States)
Martin A Ramos (Puerto Rico)
Lauri Kubutsile (Botswana)
Chika Unigwe (Nigeria)
Ravi Mangla (United States)
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria)
Skye Brannon (United States)
Jude Dibia (Nigeria)
Shabnam Nadiya (Bangladesh)
Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe)
Ivan Gabirel Reborek (Australia)
Vanessa Gebbie (Britain)
Emmanual Dipita Kwa (Cameroon)
Henrietta Rose-Innes (South Africa)
Lucinda Nelson Dhavan (India)
Adetokunbo Abiola (Nigeria)
Wadzanai Mhute (Zimbabwe)
Konstantinos Tzikas (Greece)
Ken Kamoche (Kenya)
Sequoia Nagamatsu (United States)
Ovo Adagha (Nigeria)

Currently Reading + More Reads:

For 2014, i didn't join a specific reading challenge, but i try to read books / authors from different countries and continents, and also follow the “readwomen2014” initiative. Here’s more about it: 2014 - year of reading women

For more reading notes in this blog, click here: life as a journey with books- and a reading list by regions is online at: World Reads by country

Other book blog and their current reads: It's Monday! What are you reading? (join by blogging and adding your link)

1 comment:

shelleyrae @ book'd out said...

It sounds like an interesting collection!

Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out