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Reading beyond our borders

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Spurred by Thursday's announcement that French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio (a writer of whom, it's safe to say, most Americans had never heard before last week) won the Nobel Prize for literature, NPR did a good piece yesterday called "The Best Foreign Books You've Never Heard Of."

Echoing some of last month's comments by Swedish Nobel judge Horace Engdahl that American readers are "too isolated, too insular" and that the American publishing world is closed off to translations, the piece points out that only about 3 percent of all books published in the US are works in translation.

(When it comes to literary fiction, the number is apparently less than 1 percent.)

The NPR story concludes with a list of the favorite non-US authors of David Kipen, director of Literature and National Reading Initiatives at the National Endowment for the Arts, a list of writers the story claims "most Americans have never heard of."

Here's the list:


Jonathan Coe, The Rotters' Club and The House of Sleep



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