The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe (Hardcover)
A beguiling exploration of the joys of reading across boundaries, inspired by the author’s year-long journey through a book from every country.
Ann Morgan writes in the opening of this delightful book, "I glanced up at my bookshelves, the proud record of more than twenty years of reading, and found a host of English and North American greats starting down at me…I had barely touched a work by a foreign language author in years…The awful truth dawned. I was a literary xenophobe."
Prompted to read a book translated into English from each of the world's 195 UN-recognized countries (plus Taiwan and one extra), Ann sought out classics, folktales, current favorites and commercial triumphs, novels, short stories, memoirs, and countless mixtures of all these things. The world between two covers, the world to which Ann introduces us with affection and no small measure of wit, is a world rich in the kind of narratives that engage us passionately: we meet an irreverent junk food–obsessed heroine in Kuwait, an explorer from Togo who spent years among the Inuit in Greenland, and a former child circus performer of Roma background seeking sanctuary in Switzerland. Ann's quest explores issues that affect us all: personal, political, national, and global. What is cultural heritage? How do we define national identity? Is it possible to overcome censorship and propaganda? And, above all, why and how should we read from other cultures, languages, and traditions? Illuminating and inspiring, The World Between Two Covers welcomes us into the global community of stories.
About the Author
Ann Morgan is a freelance writer and editor. She continues to blog about books at ayearofreadingtheworld.com and lives with her husband, Steve Lennon, in South London
[The World Between Two Covers] offers a persuasive rebuttal to the indifference some may feel regarding the limited availability of foreign-language works, given that there are already more books than anyone has time to read. The power wielded by the Anglo-American publishing industry over what gets translated produces uniformity; to encounter a true diversity of perspectives, Morgan demonstrates, may require some research and even some legwork.
— Timothy Aubry
Only a writer like Morgan could make reading about reading so sublimely fascinating: over a year, she immerses herself in a book from every country on the globe, and shares the profound fruits of her pursuit.
In her lively, debut book, journalist and blogger Morgan, regretting that she has been 'a literary xenophobe,' recounts her project to spend a year reading one book, translated or written in English, from every country in the world…Morgan's intrepid literary project underscores the crucial importance of stretching the boundaries of one’s aesthetic and intellectual worlds.
Extraordinary…. [The World Between Two Covers] reads less like a collection of book reviews and more of a cultural excavation of the global literary landscape. It challenges the reader instead of merely suggesting reading material, and turns our own literary prejudices inside out. Why do we choose the books we read? What does that say about us? Should we even bother reading books in translation? The answer is an unequivocal yes…. At its heart, The World Between Two Covers is a love letter to literature and a battle cry to read world literature.
— Elizabeth Silver
As journalist Morgan relates in this introspective debut, she took it upon herself to learn more about international literature after looking at her shelves and realizing that her reading has been almost exclusively British and North American… The book’s themes include the difficulties of getting published in other languages, the imperfection of translation, and the inequities of a global cultural tradition still dominated by Western imperialism… The reward for readers in this volume is a greater appreciation for global literature and the inspiration to reexamine one’s own reading habits.
This book has a very neat conceit…Morgan covers the 'landscape' of global literature, the state of publishing…the politics of translation and how the west is represented in non-occidental literatures. It is a vast field but the breezy style, infectious enthusiasm and nicely pitched tone mean it is both diverting and illuminating.
— Stuart Kelly
The World Between Two Covers is an exquisitely written book that manages to be both a compelling quest narrative and a moving exploration into the joys of reading. Ann Morgan is a wonderful writer—astute and accessible, lyrical and lush—and this is a book so compelling it's impossible to put down.
— Molly Antopol, author of The Un-Americans
Morgan knows how important it is to see things from other perspectives, to dispel the myths of superiority that our cultures have instilled in us. Her project and her book are important, vital even, in an ever-expanding global community.
— Jonathan Russell Clark