Choices in Reading

I am not familiar with the work of  Annie Ernaux, the French author who just won the Nobel Prize for literature. It used to bother me when I hadn’t heard of a writer whose work was well-enough known to be considered for a prestigious award, especially if that writer was a woman.

But I no longer expect to have read everything of note that’s published in the world. It’s not just the obvious fact that writers who don’t work in English are not translated and published in the U.S. as often as they should be, especially since I have read some complex works in French and probably could do it again with the help of a good dictionary.

It’s mostly that there are just a lot of books out there, many of them by writers who should be better known than they are. I find it hard to keep up even with writers whose work I love.

And of course, there’s a great deal of nonfiction to read, not to mention the need to read “comfort” books, most of which will never be nominated for big awards even though they are often better than that label might imply.

It is clearly impossible to read everything and when you know that a great deal of excellent work isn’t even noticed by those who purport to define the literary canon, it’s obvious that one will miss a lot of very good books.

As the French say, “C’est la vie.” Continue reading “Choices in Reading”