Writers You Should Be Reading

The Guardian asked 10 literary critics to recommend 10 ‘overseas’ writers. I loved that Maya Jaggi picked Spanish writer Juan Goytisolo. Here’s what she’s said about him:

Exiled from Franco’s Spain and still living in Marrakech, Juan Goytisolo is Spain’s greatest living writer, and its most scathing iconoclast. His milestone Marks of Identity trilogy (1966-75), which began with an exile returning to Barcelona after the civil war, skewered political tyranny and Catholic repression to reclaim Spain’s long-buried Moorish and Jewish heritages. His bisexuality (explored in his masterpiece memoirs of the 1980s, Forbidden Territory and Realms of Strife), spurred his rejection of the church and Spain’s obsession with cultural “purity”. The Spanish civil war – in which his mother was killed – haunts his fiction, whether he uses it to evoke Lorca’s links with the Arab world (The Garden of Secrets, 1997) or the bombardment of Sarajevo and Baghdad (State of Siege, 1995).

At 74, Goytisolo is still passionate about Islamic culture (see his essays on the Muslim Mediterranean, Cinema Eden, 2003), and invaluable in his long view of the Muslim world’s ties with Europe. As he once told me, when Catalan was forbidden: “I realised that to have two languages and cultures is better than one; three better than two. You should always add, not subtract.”

And Dan Halpern puts in a recommendation for a Morocco-born author I’ve never heard of: Marcel Benabou.

Link via Conversational Reading.