Foreign Not Domestic
August 2, 2011 5:30 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend some contemporary foreign personal essayists?

I'm always looking for new essays for my writing classes, and I'd like my students to read something with less Americanocentric. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
posted by John of Michigan to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Check Al Jazeera. I'm not kidding - they have some of the best reporting, and just in general journalism - out there.
posted by notsnot at 7:57 PM on August 2, 2011

I've always liked Slavenka Drakulić's essays.
posted by EvaDestruction at 8:11 PM on August 2, 2011

I was going to recommend some Brazilian crônicas. I've enjoyed those by Fernando Sabino. But I've just spent several minutes looking on Google and Amazon and I'm not finding anything of his in translation. Maybe you'll be able to find some, or find another writer; I still think it's an overlooked and underappreciated genre. (If you're not familiar, see the first link above, which provides an excellent introduction and also lists lots of authors who you could look into.)
posted by jef at 10:31 PM on August 2, 2011

It's a bit out of date and also a full length book, but My Traitor's Heart by Rian Malan is a great look at Apartheid South Africa during the State of Emergency in the late 80's/early 90's. He's an investigative journalist and researched his family's history with in SA (He was related to DW Malan, the architect of apartheid).

Another great South African journalist is Anjie Krog - she has written two books. The first one is Country of My Skull, which is about the Truth and Reconciliaton Commission's attempt to bring the perpetrators of apartheid to justice...the movie In My Country is based off that book and her life. Her second is more about her own use of language (her first language is Afrikaans) and about coming to terms with that in the New South Africa. It's called Change of Tongue.

Can you tell what my research focus was? :-)
posted by guster4lovers at 10:41 PM on August 2, 2011

I love Hilary Mantel. Here's an essay she wrote about living in Saudi Arabia (free registration required to read the whole thing).
posted by lukemeister at 7:52 AM on August 3, 2011

Response by poster: Everyone who took time to answer this, I thank you. You've all really helped me out--as well as my students!
posted by John of Michigan at 10:29 AM on August 3, 2011

Anything by Geoff Dyer (UK). This is pretty terrific.
posted by caoimhe at 6:32 AM on August 8, 2011

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