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Archive for the ‘In Translation’ Category

book listsSo if international YA award lists can sometimes be lacking, what about international YA booklists? What kind of reading do they encourage?

Well, there are a lot of them, and like the multiple definitions of what ‘international’ young adult literature, they do not agree on what ‘international’ books are and how international titles  do or do not overlap with ‘multicultural’ books. Instead the booklists I looked at  reflected a multiplicity of definitions and ideas about what should be included on these ‘international YA’ lists.

Broadly speaking, I identified three categories of booklists that international titles appeared on: ‘in translation’ lists, ‘international’ lists and ‘multicultural’ lists.

Here is a breakdown of these three categories and some (though not all) of the lists I looked at:

  • ‘Books in Translation’: booklists from The Horn Book and the librarian blog, the YA YA YAs; lists do overlap with the Batchelders – roughly 30%, but both introduce international titles and subjects not honored by the Batchelders like fantasy and humor though; both lists do, however, have a definite European language focus to their selections; a benefit of a list like this is the surety that all titles are from categories #3 and 4 of intl books (for a definition of my categories of international YA click here)
  • ‘International’ Books: booklists from YALSA, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (2 lists: non-fiction and fiction) and the San Francisco Public Library; these lists overlaps with ‘multicultural’ lists and the selected titles came from a variety of ‘international’ categories especially category #1 and #2; however, determining what category of international book these titles come from can be difficult – only San Francisco library includes information on title’s country of origin
  • ‘Multicultural’ Books: booklists from Vancouver Public Library (VPL) and the Santa Clara County Library; these lists overlap with ‘international’ lists in how they define and select their titles; but interestingly, there is also little convergence between the two lists evaluated in this category – the VPL’s list includes mostly ‘international’ titles (i.e. those set or published abroad) whereas Santa Clara’s list consisted of a (mostly) domestic multicultural titles set in the United States

Reflecting the multiplicity of definitions that exist for  ‘international YA,’ these booklists reflect, overlap and diverge on what titles they include under the umbrella of ‘international’ YA and what type of titles they have selected for their booklists. The YALSA list for example, includes many retrospective adult titles on their international list like Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, whereas the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the San Francisco Library included more contemporary and popular titles like Louise Rennison’s Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging and Ineke Holtwijk’s Asphalt Angels (for more info on the exact specificities of these lists click here and here).

garciagirlsThen there is a title like Dominican-American author Julia Alvarez’s novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, which focuses on the identity struggles of four sisters originally from the Dominican Republic who move to New York City. This title is alternatively classified as ‘international’ (as on YALSA’s ‘international’ booklist, 2009) and ‘multicultural’ (as on the Plymouth District Library’s nominally multicultural ‘Teens of Different Cultures and Places’ booklist, 2009).

The multiplicity of definitions and titles chosen can make international YA booklists on the whole a confusing tool to use. Some lists use a definition of ‘internatinal’ that seems to be more multicultural, and others (like the VPL) use the term ‘multicultural’ when their lists actually seems more international. Further, many of the titles selected on these lists give no indication of where the books were originally published  – which can make creating a balanced collection with books from both categories #1 and #2 (published domestically, but stories set abroad) and categories #3 and #4 (titles originally published abroad) more difficult. For my earlier discussion of these different categories of international YA click here.

However, there is great a variety on these lists though — though few graphic novels and manga appear on these lists, and while there is more subject variety, there is still a slight preference for ‘serious’ titles over fun, fantasy or ‘light’ reads.

Still librarian-created booklists are good tool to compare what titles other libraries are identifying and promoting to teens as good international reads.

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