Okay folks, I have a question about my 2012 reading list. I committed to reading a book from each continent, and theoretically I’ve read two and am in the process of the third.
Here’s the problem: While the authors of the books in question are originally from other continents, they have primarily lived and written in Europe or America. This applies specifically to Jhumpa Lahiri and Isabel Allende. Lahiri identifies as American, but her parents were first-generation Indian immigrants and she was born in London. Allene was born in Peru, lived in a variety of South American and European countries, and has lived in California since the ’80s.
Despite living in Westernized areas, their writing is still heavily influenced by the personal experiences from, and history of, the parts of the world they originally came from. Allende’s books are even translated from Spanish and she is considered a Chilean novelist. Lahiri’s “Unaccustomed Earth” deals a lot with Indian immigrant identity, and “Zorro” is obviously deeply rooted in Californian and Mexican history. “Daughter of Fortune,” which I read last year, is about Chile and California during the gold rush.
So my question is this: do these books still qualify as having come from another continent? I’m not at all opposed to delving more into local authors, but there certainly seems to be a history of non-Western authors having more success when published in a Western framework. What matters more, the physical geography of the book, or its cultural content?