So the other day, I received my first FifteenThousandPages reader from Denmark!
I think it’s pretty fascinating the way the internet has connected the world. Since last September, when I began this blog, I’ve received international readers from a dozen different countries (not including my own, the United States).
They include: United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, Estonia, Australia, Ireland, Japan, Germany, Indonesia, Philippines, Netherlands, and Denmark.
How cool! Reaching most corners of the world is something I literally never expected. Sure, some of those countries have only ever given me one page view. BUT THAT DOESN’T MATTER! I’ve reached them, at some point in time. And it got me thinking, what authors have come from these countries – and have I ever read them or heard of them? Obviously, I’ve heard of authors from a few (cough cough UK and Ireland), but I’m not sure about some of the others! So this is an experiment: I’m going to search the term “popular authors from [country]” on Google, and then will talk about whether I’ve heard of the main results from their “Authors frequently mentioned on the web,” what books they’ve written, etc. Here goes nothing!
There are roughly a bajillion* British authors out there that I’ve read and/or heard of. I took British Literature classes all through high school and college. So, here we go:
The three most mentioned British authors on Google are JK Rowling, William Shakespeare, and Charles Dickens. I LOVE the first two, pretty much hate the third. I’ve read a few Dickens books throughout my times in school, and just could never get into them. I love A Christmas Carol movies – any of them, and any of its iterations, really. But I just have never been able to enjoy a Dickens novel. Maybe I’ll have to give it a renewed chance.
*possibly a not real number
The most mentioned author on Google from Canada is Margaret Atwood. This makes me happy. It’s likely because she was just the first author to submit to the “secret story” time capsule that’s happening (google it!) but it could also be because she’s also just a badass. I’ll be honest, I didn’t read The Handmaid’s Tale until late 2013. But boy, did that book make an impression. I immediately suggested it to multiple people. I just thought it was a brilliantly thought out, concepted, and written book. I’m also a huge fan of her other books – particularly Oryx & Crake, the first book in the MaddAdam trilogy. I read that book my post-apocalyptic fiction class in college and it did not disappoint. Had such an interesting plot and such captivating characters. Also, I’m slightly disappointed that Alice Munro was 6th on the list (right behind Yann Martel my DUDE at 5th). She’s a recent NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE WINNER. It’s a goal to read one of her books this year, because that’s such an incredible accomplishment and I want to celebrate that.
So I actually had never heard of the first 10 authors that popped up on Google and I’m slightly upset by this. I guess I’ll have to diversify further. The first author is Juan Rulfo. He’s renowned for his two renowned literary works: El Llano en llamas (1953) and Pedro Paramo – there should be an accent over the first a- (1955). Translated into English, the first means “The Burning Plain and Other Stories.” Both sound immensely interesting – particularly Paramo, which sees a man travel to his late mother’s hometown to find his father…only to discover it’s a literal ghost town. Not empty, but ya know, with ghosts. Might have to go on the TBR list.
So interestingly enough, it’s numbers 2 and 3 on this list who are considered Estonia’s most famous (and most translated) writers: Jaan Kaplinski and Jaan Kross, respectively. Again, I’ve never heard of either – sorry, Estonia! Kaplinski seems like a very interesting writer: a poet and essayist who’s been influence by tao and buddhist teachings? That sounds like something I could get behind. He’s also very interested in politics, and served in Estonian Parliament during the 1990s. Kross is another very active political and historical novel – he is credited with helping to rejuvenate the historical novel genre. During Nazi occupation in the 1940s, he was arrested for “nationalism” or promoting Estonian Independence. I like these guys.
I was surprised to see that I actually know and really enjoy one of the Australian authors on this list: Markus Zusak! I had no idea he was Australian. Nationalities of writers is something I rarely think about, so learning this was cool for me. The Book Thief is a novel that deeply affected me – possibly moreso than any other WWII-related book outside of Night that I’ve ever read. It’s haunting, entertaining, and sympathetic, all without letting us forget about the realities of those times. And having a narrator be Death is honestly clever.
Another country where I inadvertently know a bajillion writers! Included in the list is CS Lewis, who I’ve been reading a ton of with his Narnia series (I really need to finish the last two books and do the comprehensive review…). The author I really want to mention, though, is James Joyce (who happens to be the first on the list as well). I loved Joyce’s book of short stories, Dubliners. It was so simple, so concise, and so real. Every story felt like something I could have lived. Two summers ago, I purchased Ulysses to try and read during the slow period at work. I didn’t, and it’s still sitting in a drawer at my desk. I’ve read parts of one chapter – his stream of consciousness chapter – in creative writing classes before, and loved it. I just need to get my head in the game and try to read the whole damn thing.
The first person on the list of famous authors from Japan is Haruki Murakami. While I’ve never read any of his work, I’ve heard a lot about him. 1Q84, which is a great word play on 1984, is the work I’m most aware of, though it’s one of his more recent. The interesting bit about Murakami is the way he started his writing career – inspired to write a story at a baseball game. Most writers I know are intense, even obsessive, about their need to write. It’s fascinating that such a (from what I’ve heard) talented writer never had the desire before his first novel.
So I laughed when I realized that Hitler was going to be on this list. Technically he’s an author, and we all know why he’s extensively googled. I’m going to ignore his credentials as a writer for this. Because he sucks. I actually didn’t know as many people on this list as I expected. While I recognized some names, I couldn’t put a finger on why I did. The one that I was pleased to see, however, was the mention of Wilhelm Grimm. MY DUDE. Something I’m realizing I haven’t talked much about in this blog is my love of fairy tales (that’s going to change). I find fairy tales completely fascinating, and Grimm pretty much takes the cake. Dark, terrifying, and not at all hopeful like Disney, Grimm’s compilation of tales run the gamut of subject and plot. I particularly love the story Allerlairaugh, or All Fur, which in reality is the most “typically” fairy tale, you could say. There’s a princess, 3 tasks, a discovery. Gah, I just love it. If you’ve never picked up Grimm’s stories, I highly suggest it.
If I’m being honest, this was a hard section for me. I wasn’t surprised I didn’t know any of the authors, but I was surprised about how little I could find on them and their works. Most of the info I saw was regarding was constitutes Indonesian literature – is it based on the thousands of languages rooted in the Malay language or on the works produced in the Indonesian archipelago? If you’re an Indonesian reader, or know more about this culture, which would you consider?
Another country whose writers I’d never heard of, the Filipino I most saw in my searches was Jose Rizal. He was, like Jaan Kross, a nationalist and revolutionary, and is now recognized as one of the Philippines’ national heroes. He wrote more than 30 literary works, including novels, essys, poems and plays, in Spanish and Tagalog. I definitely want to check out his work further.
So this was a weird one, my searches kept turning up non-authors? Eventually, the person I found to discuss was Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft. WHAT A NAME. I love it. In researching, I’m glad I picked him – he’s a fairly important guy! He wrote Nederduytsche Historiën, which focused mostly on the war between Spain and Netherlands, as well as numerous plays, poems, and letters. To take on a comprehensive history of the country, though, that’s impressive.
And to the last country. From Denmark we have HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN. Another one of my fairy tale homeboys. When I was in college, I wrote my honors thesis about fairy tales and Gothic lit. Many of them were from Iona and Peter Opie, who based their tales on Mr. Andersen’s. Unlike the Grimms, Andersen very much put uplifting, moral meanings into his stories. He didn’t shy from the darkness, but his stories definitely had an incredible measure of hope. I loved loved loved The Ugly Duckling when I was younger; I can’t imagine my life without it. You go, Denmark. Thanks for Hans.
Readers from around the globe, or my own country, what do you think of this? Have I missed any of the important works these countries have contributed to the literary world? What country’s authors would you recommend I look at next?