BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction’
The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction
By M. A. Orthofer
Columbia University Press (April 19, 2016)
Holding this bright new volume, “The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction” by M. A. Orthofer, you feel a sense of empowerment about world literature that is so accessible and easy to dive into it feels as if you have access to a breakdown of world authorship that opens worlds of understanding and sourcing with an astonishing clarity and grace. It is a must-have guide for students of literature, period. At last we have available a truly complete guide that opens the doors to world fiction from every European country to Africa, the Middle East and Turkey, Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Oceania, Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, Latin America and, of course, the United States and Canada.
Open to any chapter and you have access to authors from any country you may wish to know about. Their works, their histories, and genres are summarized and illuminated. Each chapter includes brief summaries of the cultural and political as well as predominant environmental and national situations in which world writers are working. These summaries are neatly and clearly brought forth with a convenience rarely found in a sourcebook. As with any exceptional history or reference, the accuracy, depth, and detail the author applies to research is what then makes it most pleasurable and elegant for the reader to enjoy. This is the case to such an extent with “The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction” that the book in and of itself opens the reader to authorship of world literature with an authority of its own that inspires and educates. And chances are that it will inspire the reading of world fiction by making available the names, the genres, and the profiles behind the works. For Americans in particular, you can’t know that you would want to read certain world authors unless you know they are there. With “The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction,” the world of literature is before you. Open the chapters on Finland or Sudan, for example, to see the names and the qualities of authors from more exotic locales. And we are led with an expert and remarkably well-researched hand into realms we would otherwise not have known. Just reading the summaries and introductions to titles and authors from an astonishingly wide range, we are at once, in this one volume, set on a world tour that swings wide the doors and windows on what will be good to read beyond the millions of North American titles to which we have been so myopically bound. “The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction” is ground-breaking in the way of Norton anthologies and other references that have been indispensable for students of literature. The knowledge this book presents with graceful outlines the important biographical as well as literary development of voices that are most often unique to a particular county and culture. This is the book that will bring new world books to American bookshelves in much greater numbers as it will pique our curiosity about writers in every country on earth. This book will be exchanged and borrowed and talked about in reading circles and college literature departments for its empowering access to world literature, for its resourcefulness, and for opening the doors to literature from anywhere in the world.