Posted on October 16, 2013


dog 2013-10-16 at 13.02.06


And so we’ve made it to ‘D’ and Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic. It almost sounds like a skipping rhyme. And ‘D’ is a nice short letter, made shorter by dint of being able to skip Denmark and Dominica.

The list of Danish writers, from Hans Christian Andersen to Pia Juul, from Karen Blixen to Peter Høeg, is long and well known.  If I could suggest only one Danish book though, it would be a book that changed my life, a book that made me a reader, and a book that at aged 8 (as with Rumer Godden’s The Diddakoi a few years later) made me convinced that prejudice in any form is wrong.  I urge you to read, or re-read, or read to your children, Anne Holm’s I am David. It is not an overstatement to say that I hold the beliefs I hold today, in part, because of this book.

Not so well known perhaps are Dominica writers, but it may surprise you, as it did me, to learn that I had actually read a brilliant novel by a Dominica writer without even knowing it – Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea.   This novel should have a place on every reader’s bookshelf. It is haunting, clever, claustrophobic, ahead of its time in dealing with post-colonialism and ‘other-ness’ and it manages all of this in a slim volume of 140 pages by letting the ‘subaltern’ speak 22 years before Spivak wrote her seminal essay.  It’s a book I have bought, lent, never got back, bought again and again and again.

Meanwhile, I have started my choice for Djibouti, Abdourahman A Waberi’s Passage des larmes (Passage of Tears), which will be the subject of my next post.  Thus far, though, it knocks books like The Reluctant Fundamentalist into a cocked kepi.