‘The big education for me is that civilisation is fragile and can be destroyed in a heartbeat' - Jeremy Brade, former peacekeeper in Sarajevo.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A curio: China, Iceland and the book trade

Icelandic Review reports that China and Iceland are marking 45 years of diplomatic relations with recognition for a prizewinning 2015 book by Einar Már Guðmundsson called Hundadagar (‘Dog Days’), named by the Chinese as one of the best foreign-language novels of the year.

Storytelling is baked into the Icelanders' culture. Readers of the thousand-year-old Icelandic sagas will be struck by how very modern they are - pithy dialogue, graphic violence. Perfect noir. And the current vogue for Nordic crime fiction includes successful Icelandic writers such as Arnaldur Indriðason, one of my wife's favourites.

This latest announcement is timed to coincide with the island's annual jólabókaflóð ("Yule book flood") - the custom of giving books as Christmas presents.

Hundadagar is a historical novel featuring Joseph Banks, the great plant-collector who accompanied Captain Cook to the South Seas. It seems Banks also collected Icelandic manuscripts.

Everything is connected to everything else.

It seems books of the right kind (pornography such as Fifty Shades is banned) may have a huge market among China's 1.3 billion people:



- provided you can maintain your copyright.

The market works both ways, e.g. the growth of Chinese science fiction, as the generation-long superfast economic growth of China stimulates the imagination as to what could come next:


Online publication also has enormous potential, though there are issues around State control:


We live in interesting times. Maybe, despite the distractions of electronic toys, authors and publishers do still have a future.

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