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Reading Beyond Borders

October 21, 2017

In 2014, the Man Booker prize was opened to writers beyond the Commonwealth, Ireland and South Africa. Since then, 2 Americans have won the prize—Paul Beatty’ Sellout and George Saunders, for Lincoln in the Bardo. But America has been reluctant to reciprocate the Booker’s openness. The US’s National Book Award, the Pulitzer prize for fiction and PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction exclude foreign writers. This means American readers receive less exposure to foreign stories and foreign styles of English prose. Added to this, is the dismal statistic that only 3% of world literature is translated into English. Opening borders to literary awards would certainly help readers.

As the world becomes smaller it becomes imperative for America to understand the outside world. Mere politics are not able to convey what stories convey— another country’s thought patterns, speech rhythms, historic ghosts and unconscious biases—all of which seep out from the stories a culture tells and the way it tells them. This brings to mind an idea from William Carlos William—It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.

To read another person’s story is to end up with a larger “circle of sympathy.” In all things, protectionism stifles. One of the greatest attributes of being a reader is how it encourages an open mind. Readers strive to stay out of a parochial mind set and opening up borders would be helpful to that endeavor.

Everybody is a story—front porches and kitchen tables

October 1, 2017

While reading, Finding Grace Around the Kitchen Table (NYT 10.1.17) I found myself thinking about the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, where the powers that be did away with front porches in their effort to eliminate communication. Clarisse points out that porches were a place to sit and talk or merely contemplate life. It […]

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Back to School, for parents and children

September 4, 2017

The beginning of a new school year is full of opportunities and heralds a parent’s high expectations for their children’s academic success and well-being. Eleanor Roosevelt said that if she could be a fairy godmother, she would endow the gift of curiosity to every child at birth. Curiosity is what drives learning and without it, […]

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Every book needs a reader…

August 8, 2017

Books on a shelf are lifeless. It is the reader who breathes life into a book and brings the story to life. A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies and the man who never reads lives only one. But maybe even more important, when I think back to the books I read as […]

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What makes reading extraordinary?

April 30, 2017

I am always on the lookout for an insight into what makes fiction such an extraordinary medium —Frank Bruni recently wrote “Great fiction is the bridge to insufficiently understood lives, our compasses to inadequately learned truth.”

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Reach Diane Frankenstein at:
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