Bits of Elsewhere

They say Americans don’t read in translation. I bet that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo torpedoed those statistics. Looking over what I’ve read in the past year, I only see three titles originally written in a language other than English, and two of those are Swedish mysteries Roseanna and Faceless Killers.

It’s amazing how ‘bits of elsewhere’ can be experienced through fiction – from weather to architecture to a completely different way of understanding the world.In their ‘Read My Country’ series, the BBC World Service asks authors “If you had to recommend three books or poems that would deepen a visitor's understanding of your country and culture, what would they be?” So far they have spoken to writers from eight countries, and I have only read one of the books named: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, one of the Nigerian author’s choices. The series of course makes me wonder – what books deepen a visitor’s understanding of our country and culture?