Is Asia Underrepresented in World Literature?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

Nobel and Asia

By Edward Nawotka

Today’s lead story by Miguel Syjuco discusses changes to the Man Asia Literary Prize, an award that was designed to bring more attention to writers from Asia. Considering that some 60% of the world’s population lives in Asia, many of them eager to learn English and exchange cultural ideas, it brings up the question: Is Asia underrepresented in world literature as it is known in the West?

My initial thought is “yes.” Taking Nobel Prize-winners as a rough gauge you can see that in 109 years of the prize, there have been only four winners from Asia: Gao Xingjian from China in 2000, Kenzaburo Oe in 1994, Yasunari Kawabata in 1968, and Rabindranath Tagore in 1913.

It’s a surprising statistic and a shocking situation — one that deserves to be rectified. But how?

Tell us your thoughts in the comments below or via Twitter using #ppdiscuss.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.