what started out as ‘something to do’ became a genuine passion. (this blog was born when i decided i wanted to read 100 books from 100 countries. no particular reason.) although i took an extended break from blogging, i never stopped seeking out international fiction. my curiosity and desire to travel the world via fiction remain unsated.
it’s the thrill of the explorer, discovering something new. new people, new places, new experiences. always seeking the Other. sometimes, you find out how the world shapes itself, or how politics and power have shaped the world . but more than that, you get to experience it through the eyes of others, on the ground, from inside their lives. what do they think about what has happened? how has it changed their daily life? how do they feel about it? what’s going to change for them? you can empathise with people and places in a way you cannot when your main source of learning is, for example, the news. your values get challenged and changed from being up close and intimate with people from far away cultures and places.
of course, sometimes it’s just about finding a brilliant story with characters you couldn’t conceive of inside your head. people and places to break through your horizons and expand your experience of the world, of life.
i delight in knowing about the world; i like knowing where Kazakhstan is and a little of its history and geography; knowing how tuareg desert nomads survive and how old elephants die (and why you won’t find their skeletons) feel like pearls of knowledge, all the more precious because i excavated them from books that aren’t mainstream or in popular culture. i like knowing how other people live and think. i love exploring – the books i remember the most fondly from my childhood (apart from the horsey ones) were Willard Price’s Adventure series, starring new lands, new animals and a plethora of exciting adventures. collecting the rare and precious.
does reading fiction from other places give me some sense of freedom? or is it all about discovering? understanding? stepping into the unknown? i don’t know; i just love exploring this way.