Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What Defines a National Writer in an Age of Globalization?

That's the question being asked in the Daily Beast.

From the piece...

The concept of the global writer is a relatively new one. There has always been the Sri Lankan writer, for example, or the English writer, or the Canadian, or indeed the American. It is only in recent years that a writer like Michael Ondaatje—born in Sri Lanka, educated in England, a Canadian citizen who wrote his first novel about a black American jazz musician—was able to comfortably fit the phrase “international mongrel” into the discourse. We are increasingly familiar with our hybrid sense of nationality: that wherever we are can be coupled with wherever we once were. Writers can carry the weight of a couple of extra countries: If you put the original brick in your pocket, you can still swim the river. We’re not shattered by our multiple hyphenations. We can be Irish and Argentinean, or French and Australian, or Chinese and Paraguayan, or perhaps even all of them at once.

The problem comes if you’re European. What exactly is a European writer? Is there a contained geography or an accepted history in which she or he exists? Is there some sort of European voice that justifies an anthology? What does it mean, apart from the very nature of fracture, to have a literature of Europe?

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