A slap-down for all of us who haven't read Suite Francaise. Aviya Kushner, writing in The Wilson Quarterly, decries the lack of interest in translated literature.
"It's not that Americans aren't interested in the world at all," she argues. "It's just that we seem to want someone else to do the heavy lifting required to make a cultural connection." The Peruvian-born writer Daniel Alarcon tells her that too many of us would rather read stories by an American about Peru than the translated work of a Peruvian writer.
I like Kushner's essay, but it's not clear to me how reading work in translation is heavier lifting for Americans than reading work in English. And is Kushner arguing that there is something inherently valuable in literature translated from other languages? Is The Reader necessarily more eye-opening and world-expanding than On Beauty, because the first was written in German and the second in English?
And is there a difference between consuming world music and world literature? What about going out for dinner at that Afghan restaurant?
Any lovers of literature-in-translation out there? Fans of fado? Defend yourselves!