Finding books to read for this blog has been mostly a joyful experience. Sometimes frustrating. Sometimes surprising. Below are a few examples of the (first-world) problems I run into from time to time:
1) Panama – Books by well-known Panamanian authors like Consuelo Tomas, Rosa Maria Britton, etc. only available in Spanish. I don’t want to read the great David McCullough’s book on the building of the Panama Canal, excellent though I’m sure it is. I want to get to know the people and the indigenous life there, not the experience of Americans. Superstition, Pirates, Ghosts and Folklore sounds excellent but is only available on Kindle.
2) Liberia – Much in the news right now (October 2014). Murder in the Cassava Patch is required reading for every Liberian high school student and a classic in a small literary tradition. But it is out of print in the US. I found a print-on-demand company, Bookvika, which has published some copies, but their website is entirely in Cyrillic. I do speak some Russian but I couldn’t find the “translate to English” button. Grr.
- Netflix doesn’t have the movie, which came out in 2012 and won awards at the Pan-Africa Film Festival. The author collaborated on the screenplay, so that might have been acceptable. Alas.
- Alibris, ABE, BookFinder etc. came up with nothing for used copies.
- Ebay has something called “Culture by Continent” which discusses Murder in the Cassava Patch. They want $93 dollars for it.
- I cannot find the publisher of the book, nor the ISBN number.
- I tried to search Craigslist Africa, but it made me pick a country. This was tedious and unrewarding. Ditto “Americas” and “Europe”.
When I was in Japan, I had a friend from South Africa. He told me later he was actually from Swaziland inside South Africa. It was tiny, and I had never heard of it, which I conveniently blame on being American. Lol. I found a book called Among the Brave that I wanted to read. It was censured by the British government upon publication; I guess it didn’t make them look very good. And guess what? It’s ALSO not available for purchase. HMMMMM….
The only writer I can find on Wikipedia has only one book available…in French…which I don’t speak…for $128, used.