The World Between Two Covers
by Ann Morgan
Published May, 2015
From Goodreads: A beguiling exploration of the joys of reading across boundaries, inspired by the author’s year-long journey through a book from every country.
Following an impulse to read more internationally, journalist Ann Morgan undertook first to define “the world” and then to find a story from each of 196 nations. Tireless in her quest and assisted by generous, far-flung strangers, Morgan discovered not only a treasury of world literature but also the keys to unlock it. Whether considering the difficulties faced by writers in developing nations, movingly illustrated by Burundian Marie-Thérese Toyi’s Weep Not, Refugee; tracing the use of local myths in the fantastically successful Samoan YA series Telesa; delving into questions of censorship and propaganda while sourcing a title from North Korea; or simply getting hold of The Corsair, the first Qatari novel to be translated into English, Morgan illuminates with wit, warmth, and insight how stories are written the world over and how place-geographical, historical, virtual-shapes the books we read and write.
I first heard about this book after watching Ann Morgan’s TED Talk about her literary adventure. She realized one day that most of the books she read were by British or American authors and wondered what she was missing out on, so she set out to read a book from every country- 196 of them- in one year. Some things were easy to find, others were extremely difficult, and in the process she encountered issues such as censorship and what makes a person a citizen of ‘Country X’ if they are immigrants or living in exile.
Morgan’s story inspired me to start reading books from other countries, and it’s been interesting (in a good way!) so far. I’ve read Ukranian satires (The Master and Margarita), dark stories about conflicts between siblings and even deeper inner conflicts from South Korea (I Have the Right to Destroy Myself). I have a long way to go, but it’s going to be a fantastic journey.