Since I started Sadaik back in 2012, it’s always been about one thing. To promote literature in English translation from a country that had objectively suffered from the longest, state sanction literary censorship regime seen in the world since World War 2 other than North Korea. After the abolition of pre-publication censorship with the dismantling of the PRSD in January 2013, I had hoped that the global literary community would embrace those writers who had been silenced, but, really, that hasn’t happened.
Translation is always an issue. The writers here don’t write in English, and Burmese is not a global/influential language such as Spanish, Arabic or Chinese (the same could be said for all of South East Asia) and as such there is no pool of native-speaking academics turning their talents to Myanmar.
And then there is access. What books that are translated into English (or written originally in English) and published in Myanmar are usually not available outside of the country.
Yet, there is also an awareness issue. Global readers, I’m sure, would love to read a novel, a novella, a collection of short stories from a Myanmar writer. But how do you hear about this writer? How would you even know they exist?
Traditional sources, literary journals, author social media accounts, have a limited effect. Sure, to be mentioned in such sources grants a certain legitimacy, but what is the reach? How many will actually read the brief mention and actively search for a Myanmar writer. How can writers from Myanmar writing in or translated into English, compete with regional powerhouses such as South Korea, Japan, China and Indonesia?
This is where the book-blogging community comes in.
The Year of Asian Reading Challenge is a call to all booklovers to read as many books written by Asian authors as you can.
The book blogging community is huge, and yes, many bloggers lean towards Young Adult and Fantasy, but the bloggers are open to new fiction. Many of the bloggers will use their platform to explore genres that go beyond their first love. And they have reach. They connect with so many others like them and they share what they have come across, for good and bad.
Traditional publishers should be doing everything they can to get their books into the hands of these bloggers, even if that book is not YA/Fantasy, for the community is more than just that.
Which is why I have signed up for the Year of Asian Reading Challenge (YARC) It’s not something I have done before, and it’s certainly not within the usual scope of Sadaik, but any attempt to increase readership and awareness of books and writers from Asia, is in my opinion, something to be welcomed and encouraged.
The YARC is hosted by four bloggers:
- CW @ The Quiet Pond | twitter: @artfromafriend
- Vicky @ Vicky Who Reads | twitter: @vickycbooks
- Shealea @ Shut Up, Shealea | twitter: @bookshelfbitch
- Lily @ sprinklesofdreams | twitter: @sprnklsofdreams
To know more about the challenge click on any of the links above, especially from sprinkleofdreams where i first found out about this challenge, but basically you challenge yourself to read as many books from Asian authors as you can. The books have to be started and finished in 2020. The hosts have designated levels or numbers of books you have completed, with each level awarding you a badge in the form of an animal from Asia depending on how many books you have read. The badges look great, but, being honest, might look a bit strange given Sadaik’s content and purpose, but i will be using this page to keep an update on all the books from Asian writers i have read this year.
Most will be Myanmar writers, and I hope (which is the reason i’m joining this challenge), that others out there will see and seek for writers from Myanmar while at the same time, expose me to other non-Myanmar writers that i have never heard of.