We are the world, we are the children...
July 9, 2003 12:29 PM   Subscribe

"The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!" Who says 'Murricans are insular and self-absorbed?! Okay, everybody, but everybody's wrong. Proof positive? The absolutely last and final word that'll make everybody believe we really do care about their mangy foreign butts? The fact that the Library of Congress has a wonderful site called A World of Books: Annotated Surveys of Noteworthy Books from Around the Globe, devoted to "some of the most important and interesting books published abroad that an American public may have overlooked. The results provide a fascinating insight about other peoples and cultures." It's good times.
posted by jengod (10 comments total)
If only the Librarians of Congress were running the show instead of the shower yous have now...
posted by i_cola at 12:35 PM on July 9, 2003

On the surface, Japan's '99 entry sounds really interesting:

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

The best-selling novelist of contemporary Japan dishes up a surreal mixture of cyberpunk, explicit reminiscences of Raymond Chandler, and metaphysical speculation on multiple identity and simultaneous, interpenetrating worlds. A consumerist Tokyo Philip Marlowe is launched into high tech adventures underneath Tokyo where he is menaced by traditional water demons (kappa) in league with information thieves. At the same time a man is deprived of his shadow in a city called End of the World and set to reading memories from the skulls of unicorns. Winner of the prestigious Tanizaki Prize, the book is a mixture of American fun and Japanese dread.
posted by mnology at 12:49 PM on July 9, 2003

...because it's a well-known fact that other countries produce no more than one book worth reading each year.

"The entries chosen share international perspectives of authors who are not American, many of whom do not live in the United States." Oh, hurrah for multiculturalism.
posted by Hogshead at 1:26 PM on July 9, 2003

It's a good book below the surface too, mnology. I also recommend his short story collection, After the Quake.
posted by SealWyf at 2:01 PM on July 9, 2003

Nothing listed for Estonia? That's bullshit!
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:35 PM on July 9, 2003

mnology, the book actually lives up to the description. I'd recommend everything Murakami has ever written, but that book is my favorite.

(on preview: Looks like we all agree. What happened to Metafilter? Did I stumble onto the wrong website by accident?)
posted by fuzz at 2:55 PM on July 9, 2003

Um, I don't like Murakami very much. He has some good individual scenes, but I find his writing to be very occasionally self-important and overly portentious, along the lines of Paul Auster.

Banana Yoshimoto is better.
posted by jfwlucy at 6:13 PM on July 9, 2003

No, you're wrong!

(Thanks, I feel better now.)
posted by fuzz at 6:16 PM on July 9, 2003

Glad I could be of help.
posted by jfwlucy at 6:37 PM on July 9, 2003

jwflucy, You're right. Paul Auster does suck. Just this morning I threw his "The Illusionist" across the room, only a few dozen pages away from the ending. He is so full of beans. In any case, I can vouch that the L of C-recommended "Diaries of Isaac Babel" is terrific. Ishigouro's "Floating World" is a bore. I'm sure that most of them are good. But what to make of all this "A Nigerian-Japanese-Palestinian girl adopted by an Inuit-Native American, is sent to New Zealand to be educated by the family of a Japanese-Chilean fisherman who is in love with a French-speaking Turkish-Polish-Cuban cartographer living in a South African refugee camp" sort of thing? Why is a certain class of educated person so obsessed by hyphenated national culture?
posted by Faze at 8:07 AM on July 10, 2003

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