Selection Rationale

The first three texts on this list have been chosen because of their high profile, their relative accessibility, and the fact that they regularly appear on current reading group lists. They suggest a certain consensus about literary value in the present global literary marketplace, and have a notable coherence in terms of date of publication, fictional location (London) and metropolitan consecration. By exposing these texts to a diverse range of readers, we will be asking to what extent this consensus is confirmed or challenged.

The choice of Jackie Kay's The Adoption Papers is informed by a broader agenda of this project, which is to move outwards, or devolve, from London as diasporic literary capital by focusing on cultural production and reception in Central Scotland in a period before the current 'boom' in diasporic fiction. It will allow us to ask to what extent differences in literary content, context, genre and period shape, or are shaped by contemporary reading practices.

Reading groups outside the UK will also consider a fifth diasporic text that has local significance (whether in terms of fictional content, or place of publication) to the readers' location. For example, in New Delhi, the fifth text is Hari Kunzru's Transmission, a novel that is set in both Central Scotland and Delhi. Other texts being looked at are Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart and Leila Aboulela's The Translator (African groups), Junot Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Trinidadian group), and Dionne Brand's What We All Long For (Canadian group) and Suhayl Saadi’s short story, ‘Extra Time in Paradise’, written in both Standard English and Scots (Scottish Groups).

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