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:
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
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
The Poems of Emily Dickinson
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald,
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Letters from A Javanese Princess by Raden Adjeng Kartini
This Earth of Mankind by Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Saman by Ayu Utami
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
Songs of Blood and Sword by Fatima Bhutto
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif
Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamande Ngozi Adichie
Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore
The Good Muslim by Tahmima Anam
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The Poems of Anna Akhmatova
The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco
When Heaven and Earth Changed Places by Le Ly Hayslip
Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengiste
Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
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
Letters from Thailand by Botan
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Aeneid by Virgil
Letters from Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
Please Look After Mother by Kyung Sook Shin
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Life of St Teresa of Avila by Herself
The White Guard by Mikail Bulgakhov
Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurnah
Devil on the Cross by Ngugi wa’Thiongo
The Topless Tower by Silvina Ocampo
Fantasia: An Algerian Calvacade by Assia Djebar
The Poems of Wislawa Szymborska
Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih
Song of Lawino and Song of Ocol by Okot p’Bitek
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
The Poems of Rabia Basri
Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami
The Time of the Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa
The Dancer from Khiva by Bibish
Kampung Boy by Lat
Doña Inés vs. Oblivion by Ana Teresa Torres
The End of the World by Sushma Joshi
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali
Eyes of the Tailless Animals by Soon Ok Lee
Changes by Ama Ata Adoo
Neighbours: A Story of a Murder by Lília Momplé
Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
Notes of a Desolate Man by Chu Ti’en-Wen
This is a fantastic idea! And I think the Bookporn community can make this list grow. What do you say?
I’ll start adding some titles here (trying to stick to novels) and you can send me yours in a message. I’ll gather them and post and updated list!
Japan: The Sea of Fertility series by Yukio Mishima, Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto.
México: Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo, Battles in the Desert by José Emilio Pacheco, Les Exilés de la Mémoire (Los Rojos de Ultramar) by Jordi Soler, The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz, Confabulario by Juan José Arreola, Popol Vuh, The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela, The Nine Guardians (Balún Canán) by Rosario Castellanos, Tear This Heart Out by Ángeles Mastretta.
Germany: Perfume by Patrick Süskind, Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse, The Tin Drum by Günter Grass (born in Poland).
France: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (born in Morocco).
Italy: Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (born in Cuba).
Colombia: Delirium by Laura Restrepo, Recipes for Sad Women by Héctor Abad Faciolince.
Spain: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Tell Me Who I Am by Julia Navarro, See How Much I Love You by Luis Leante, Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones.
Argentina: The Aleph and Other Stories by Jorge Luis Borges, Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar, The Tunnel by Ernesto Sabato.
Canada: Dear Life by Alice Munro, In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honoré (born in Scotland), Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen.
Peru: Red April by Santiago Roncagliolo.
Czech Republic: Slowness by Milan Kundera, Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke.
Israel: The Nimrod Flipout by Etgar Keret.
Nigeria: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The African Trilogy by Chinua Achebe.
Palestine: Wild Thorns by Sahar Khalifeh
Portugal: Blindness by José Saramago, The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa.
Uruguay: Memory of Fire series by Eduardo Galeano, The Decapitated Chicken and Ohter Stories by Horacio Quiroga, The Truce by Mario Benedetti.
Wow hello about 100 of you have just started following me today and I’m totally floored!! I have a bunch of new submissions and that makes me so happy! Unfortunately, this week is finals week and I don’t have time to go through them right now, but you can bet your boots that I’ll do it as soon as I’m done with finals! I love you all, and to all you newbies, welcome to the family :)
…the neat sorting-out of books into age-groups, so dear to publishers, has only a very sketchy relation with the habits of any real readers. Those of us who are blamed when old for reading childish books were blamed when children for reading books too old for us. No reader worth his salt trots along in obedience to a time-table.
— C.S. Lewis (via muralofsolitude)
Keep calm and read books!
All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was.
— Ernest Hemingway (via bookporn)
Reading in a tree across from a lovely little coffee shop with excellent coffee. Decided I needed a break from GoT and I was in the mood for a little Eugenides. Fantastic book, so far.
I need some stories from you guys to post/queue! Feel free to submit your stories, or just your favorite books!