What genres are particularly well represented in various non-eng langs?
May 14, 2019 6:31 AM   Subscribe

I don't mean in general, but rather, for whatever language communities you're familiar with, what genres are particularly strong and/or worth exploring in said language community? For example, in Chinese there is a genre called wuxia, of which crouching tiger hidden dragon is a famous example in the west but...the genre is really big (much, much bigger than CTHD!), and a lot of things are untranslated (though one of the uber classics, the condor heroes, is currently being translated...it's gonna be a while until it's all done though!).

I'm less familiar with Japanese, but right now I'm sort of intrigued by the prospect of Japanese crime novels.

I'm interested in genre over medium (eg crime vs manga or anime or whatnot), but I'm definitely open to mediums that are particularly well represented in other languages.

I'm particularly interested in Mandarin, Japanesd, and Spanish, but I also am just curious what sorts of genres might be big in non-English languages that someone who doesn't know might never hear about. Going back to wuxia, while these days it's less popular than it was, certain stories are still immensely famous, and the genre has spawned a lot of more popular contemporary genres...but if you're not familiar with mainland Chinese pop culture, it's pretty easy to miss! I wanna know if like...Uzbek historical fiction is totally off the chain or something!

(Btw if this post makes you wuxia curious you should absolutely go read some. It's great!)
posted by wooh to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
France and Belgium have a long tradition of comic books called BDs.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 7:23 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]

Science fiction is well represented in Polish and other eastern European languages/traditions.
I would start with The Cyberiad by Stanisław Lem. The English language translation is pretty amazing, transferring mathy rhyming puns with natural ease.

Wikipedia has a page Science Fiction and Fantasy in Poland, and a whole section of page listings at Science Fiction#International examples (note the strong presence of Eastern Europe)

BTW Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain is a available in English on Kindle, it's a very famous and relatively short intro to Wuxia that I learned about here :) It also has a great forward on the special challenges of translating Wuxia, which was designed to sound odd and old-timey to HK readers, using fake/pseudo-historical language. So that's why they call people "myrmidons"...
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:24 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]

Magical realism is especially associated with Latin American writers, and thus with Spanish.
posted by os tuberoes at 7:29 AM on May 14 [7 favorites]

Does xiangsheng (crosstalk) count? Maybe also rakugo. (Depends on if you are limiting yourself to print media or not).
posted by plep at 7:45 AM on May 14

Korea is famous for its K-Dramas (tv series). Although the dramas can span different genres, I think the classic rich young man, struggling young woman, mistaken first impressions, and disapproving and meddling in-laws defines this particular genre.
K-Pop might be more of an aesthetic than genre, but it’s videos have their own style as well.
posted by forforf at 2:44 PM on May 14

In Cyprus, there’s a kind of poetic duelling that’s part of UNESCO’s intangible heritage list. It’s an improvised back and forth musical dialogue in the island’s Greek dialect. There’s also a tradition of poet storytellers, basically bards. And generally, oral storytelling is strong across the main cultures there.
posted by mkdirusername at 7:33 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

The history of science fiction and fantasy in French is much richer than most English speakers are aware of, but Black Coat Press has been translating tons of it.
posted by Wobbuffet at 9:07 PM on May 14

I'm less familiar with Japanese,

Japan's got scads of webnovels, which get redone as manga and anime. People translate them into English, with a mixture of enthusiasm, machine translation, and poor grammar skills.

A great number of them are extremely formulaic, "isekai" (Japanese: 異世界, transl. "different world") novels involving young men and women transmigrated into fantasy worlds usually based on JRPGs or dating sims. Sometimes as the baddie. It's pretty genre-savy/cliche-ish stuff.

They're popcorn reading, often made up of meandering slice-of-life episodes rather than defined plot arcs. Generally, you don't walk away with a sense of wonder the way you might with an awesome book. But with the better ones, you walk away wanting to know what happens next. I'd like to see more "thinky" sci-fi, or passionate fantasy, but ... eh.

They almost always recapitulate stale Japanese gender roles. The stuff by men for men is non-Bechdel compliant, usually with a harem of weakly self-actualized young women following a meek/antihero male protagonist, who is more likely to notice breast size than hair color.

The stuff by women for women is a bit better. Although I swear I've read about ten webnovels about women who wake up as the villainess in a dating sim.

Slow Prison Life

Apotheosis of a Demon – A Monster Evolution Story

Half-Dragon Slave Life

Death Marching to the Parallel World Rhapsody

Fugitive Poison User ~I Am Somehow Recovering in a World Full of Miasma~
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:51 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

There's a lot of wuxia webnovels on that first link as well, but I've had trouble getting into that genre.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:53 PM on May 14

Iranian new wave film? It's maybe too broad to be a 'genre', but it's a driving force behind most of the Iranian films that get attention outside of Iran.

They tend to be artistic, naturalistic, focusing on everyday life of the lower classes, leisurely paced and poetic. Some give metacommentary about filmmaking and the line between reality and fiction.
Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi, Asghar Farhadi, Mohsen & Samira Makhmalbaf are a few directors to get you started.
posted by Gordafarin at 5:46 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]

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