martes, 3 de abril de 2007

A cultural loss?

Vaig viure la primera meitat de l'any 2002 a Londres. Mentre buscava feina, agafava autobusos i perdia metros, vaig mirar de treure tot el profit possible d'una ciutat culturalment riquíssima, però que, no obstant això, i com tots els països anglosaxons, pateix d'un egocentrisme limitador. Davant la precària oferta de literatura forània traduïda a l'anglès -que pot semblar estrany i sorprenent, però que es constata passejant per unes quantes de les llibreries més populars de la capital britànica-, vaig decidir escriure una carta a l'editor al diari The Guardian (que van tenir la gentilesa de publicar el dissabte següent) per a donar la meva opinió sobre la controvèrsia que es ventilava aquells dies: la inclusió d'escriptors nordamericans en la candidatura del prestigiós premi literari Booker. Darrera d'aquesta polèmica es tractava de decidir el millor escriptor del planeta, mentre s'obviava la gran mancança anglesa en l'àmbit de les traduccions. I esclar, vaig aprofitar per escombrar una mica cap a casa...



London, 23.05.02

Ref: Booker Prize

With some modesty I will give you the best reason not to open the Booker Prize to American writers: in order to stop this non confessed talking about the best author in the world that lies behind all this controversy. The key line of Prize fighters (The Guardian, 23.05.02) is provided by Ben Okri when he says “I think some of the best books in the world aren’t British or American -they come from all over the world”. The thing is that for too many people here and there in the States “all over the world” finishes in the English speaking countries (Bill Conolly, the comedian, is well known all over the world someone told me, and all he could manage to say was Australia and New Zealand; well, you know...). If you open your prestigious prize to American writers what you will surely do is reduce once again your cultural horizon, American authors do not need the Booker to be read in foreign countries, the marketing labelling officers will eat up all what is left of cultural relevance and the British and Commonwealth readers will be forced to focus their attention in a part that will be commercialised as a whole.
Instead of this, I suggest you to think about the following: How many people in Britain have read any book by Thomas Bernhard, or Peter Handke, or Bohumil Hrabal, Quim Monzo or Javier Tomeo? Do they have a clue of who they are? Why is it so difficult to find a book of these authors -and too many foreign others- in Charing Cross Road (imagine that!)? Have you ever thought about the cultural loss and political damage that causes to think only in and about English?
Finally, a nice message to all the media. Please, don’t let you be confused, and confuse people, and stop talking about America when you want to say United States. Remember: the USA is a country inside a continent called America. (Now that’s what I call cultural colonisation.)
All the best,

Alfons C Salellas
London