Asian Literature is Always Forgotten

Asian literature is largely unknown. I must admit my utter ignorance about it as almost every European reader should. We Western people blush unless we have read Shakespeare or Cervantes while we do not care about any well-known Asian writer. The lack of Asian works in Western bookshops and reviews is simply appalling.

As I did regarding Latin American literature, I shook my memory tree in order to gather every piece of Asian literature I ever read. My sparse Far-East’s readings include two works by the Japanese author Yukio Mishima (The Temple of Golden Pavilion and The Music), Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by the also Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu and a few poems by the Chinese poet Li Bai. I also read some Middle East works such as Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, the Innana’s Descent to the Underworld and Erra and Ishum, apart from scattered poems by medieval Persian poets. This short list is almost completed by adding some Asian-born writers of Western traditions, including ancient ones such as Herodotus and Heraclitus. There is nothing else save for fragments of the Bible, an almost European version of One Thousand and One Night, a few haikus and tankas and a handful of manga graphic stories. To top it off, I read none of them in their original languages.

Some time ago I read about this girl who aimed to read one book from almost every country in the world. I thought then it was a great idea. I have scarcely read anything from Asia and I miss large areas of this continent as for literature. I used to consider myself a good reader though I do not hold such a smarty claim anymore.

In the future I will try to diversify my readings so that taking more Asian works. I think this is a great way to overcome our Euro-centric thinking.

I will appreciate any fresh Asian suggestion.

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