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Posts Tagged ‘literature’

We resolve to be different. Fitter. Pay off debt. Volunteer. Clean out that god-forsaken garage. Stepping into a fresh calendar year seems like a chance to try on a colorful persona, yet new year’s resolutions are so often based on territory (and self-images) we already know.

Instead, surprising facets of ourselves are evoked by a novel landscape and our metamorphosis chooses us.
moths by A.Ashman
This year I took charge of my own web presence. A major undertaking requiring vision and planning — but it didn’t rate an end-of-’08 resolution. When I set down a tiny microblogging footprint with Twitter 18 months ago I didn’t foresee 2009’s curated-webpath to my interests and intentions.

Suddenly I was virtually attending conferences like the interactive SXSW and participating in live webchats on branding, innovation, and literature. I became a joiner and a beta-tester, signing on for a month-long experimental blogging course and volunteering for a conference-call-based life design course for expat women entrepreneurs.

I’ve become a full-feathered indie blogger, and a player in the digiventures of others: founder of the group blog to build on hybrid Expat Harem themes so many of us are living, a new media guest blogger, a location-independence blog carnival participant, administrator of a LinkedIn group for creative entrepreneurs using social media, and the curator of a year-long 2010 webcarnival to celebrate Istanbul.

Being proactive in the blogosphere is an epiphany, a 2009 reawakening of my inner student….a time to learn exactly what I need to know — as a writer and publisher, a global citizen and cultural creative in Istanbul  — and contribute to the future of my communities.

What’s your surprise metamorphosis of 2009? Who did you become this year?

[Gratitude to everyone who taught me something in 2009!]

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I asked that question during a week of live #litchat on Twitter when I guest hosted this spring. Here are highlights from three hours of conversation with 40 readers, writers, travelers, expats, Third Culture Kids and emigrees weighing in from around the globe. The unattributed comments are my own.

WHAT’S EXPAT LIT?

The interpretation of another culture by someone of our own. — M. Dominique Benoit

An expat writer draws on a collective cultural consciousness to talk about a different locale. An outsider’s view from the inside: when it’s good, it’s the best of both worlds.

A thoughtful expat will question and analyze his own cultural biases. The reader can do this vicariously. — Deborah Davidson

EXPAT LIT COMES OF AGE

So many globetrotters, so many identity issues when home keeps changing. — Jennifer Eaton Gokmen

EXPAT LIT VS. TRAVELOGUE

Travel may open your eyes but does not change your identity. Expatriation sure does! — Emmanuelle Archer

Expat lit is not travel literature since writing about life from outside a homeland does not mean writing from a state of travel. We’re coping with extended life in a foreign culture, navigating subtleties, adapting to find harmony. Personal assimilation/identity issues dominate expat writing, and filter their world. If travel writing is a chance to travel vicariously, expat lit is a chance to live abroad vicariously.

FEMALE VS. MALE WRITERS

Female expat writers do more with identity and assimilation, I find. — Nassim Assefi

EMIGREE/IMMIGRANT VS. EXPAT

If the subject is primarily your homeland and you live abroad as an emigree, that’s emigree lit. If you’re living outside your home culture writing about where you are, and even the rest of the world, that’s expat lit. 

THIRD CULTURE KID VS. EXPAT

Third Culture Kid lit has more multi-faceted identity issues versus the writer who becomes an expat as an adult. The adult expat writer already has an established identity that gets challenged as adult. TCK has been challenged with identity all his life. — J. Gokmen

TCK often means not knowing where home is. Citizenship or nationality become irrelevant. TCK lit can be the epitome of expat lit, a “twice-removed” look at the culture. — E. Archer

AUTHORS, TITLES MENTIONED (travel, expat, TCK, emigree literature, historical and contemporary)

Adam Gopnik – Paris to the Moon//Anthony Burgess – Malay Trilogy//Bill Bryson//Carla Grissman – Dinner of Herbs//Chris Stewart – Driving Over Lemons//Christopher Isherwood//David Sedaris – Nuit of the Living Dead//Ernest Hemingway – Death in the Afternoon//Firoozeh Dumas – Funny in Farsi//Freya Stark//Gertrude Stein and the Lost Generation//Henry Miller//Isabella Bird//Jamie Zeppa – Beyond the Sky and Earth: A Journey into Bhutan//Karen Blixen//Lawrence Durrell – Alexandria Quartet//A. J. Leibling – Between Meals: An Appetite For Paris//Malcolm Lowry//Marlena De Blasi – A Thousand Days in Tuscany//Mary Blume – A French Affair//Mary Lee Settle – Turkish Reflections//Milan Kundera//Peter Mayles – French Lessons//Pico Iyer//Sarah McDonald – Holy Cow//Sarah Turnbull – Almost French//Somerset Maugham – Far Eastern Tales//Stanley Karnow – Paris in the Fifties//Tahir Shah – The Caliph’s House//Tales from the Expat Harem//Three Cups of Tea//Vladimir Nabokov//William Dalrymple

Does expat lit deserve its own genre? Which writers and titles do you consider expat lit, or why not?

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