I poke around in "El Tiempo" - the Colombian newspaper- a couple times a week. In fact, I get all my news from Yahoo's front page, Twitter, blogs, facebook, and El Tiempo. No, I don't read English newspapers. :(
Anyhow, here's the top 10 fiction bestsellers from Colombia last year:
5. The Valkyries by Paolo Coelho
4. El sueño del celta (The Celt's Dream) by Mario Vargas Llosa
3. Fall of Giants by Ken Follet
2. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which is 'The Man who didn't Love Women' in Spanish) by Stieg Larsson.
Notice anything special?
Remember, this is Colombia...
Yeah, that's right. There's only one Spanish-speaking author on the list, and in case you wondered, he's Peruvian. (Paolo Coelho is Brazilian, which is at least on the same continent.)
After I read this list, it occured to me- not for the first time; I am a liguist- how skewed the world is in favour of us English speakers. How many non-English books make it to our lists? The Alchemist did it, and the Stieg Larsson books as well, but we've never had more books on any best-seller list which orignated in a foreign language than English books.
I doubt we ever will.
And then I realised, again not for the first time, that English speakers miss out on so much of the world for this reason. Our literature, our movies, our music all originates in English. And to make matters worse, we can count the number of countries who even have a role on one hand.
There's nothing wrong with surrounding yourself with your own stories, but it's kind of like only painting with red and blue, and never realising that there's yellow out there. That's not to say you'll end up liking the yellow or anything. But you should at least try it.
I'm going to do my part to broaden our horizons, and I'll be making an effort to include (in the giveaways) books which were originally published in other languages, or by multicultural authors.
(And speaking of giveaways, I have a totally fab one planned. But you'll have to wait until World Literacy Day- so long as I remember, but I should since it's my Dad's birthday as well.)
Don't forget to enter THE DUFF giveaway.