#101 Local Literature
This post was submitted by R. who blogs at Economic Revolution (http://economicrevolution.wordpress.com/). Follow R. on twitter@mrdalloway85
There is nothing that a certain type of superior-feeling EAW likes more than displaying refined and eclectic literary taste. This is best done in front of the locals and/or at cocktail parties in the EAW’s home country, for reading local literature and becoming a connoisseur thereof is the ultimate sign of cultural adaptation.
Just before boarding the plane for annual leave or coming back from R&R, this sort of EAW may causally say to his or her travel companion ‘Well, I was going to buy the latest issue of Marie Claire for the plane, but I am reading the memoirs of this 15th century Xefgu princess that defeated the brutal rule of the third Imamate and I just can’t put it down’
Of course the EAW would brag about reading the book in its original language, because, that’s just how we roll. ‘Yes, the 19th century translation of the Shahnameh is passable, but one cannot truly appreciate such a masterpiece until one reads it in ancient Persian…’ usually best said with a patronizing tone and sorry look at the fellow EAW who is, at best, barely functional in modern Persian.
The literary genius EAW cannot stomach the plebeian EAW who is fresh off the boat and who, serendipitously, picks up a vulgar and overrated best seller at the local bookstore. Such books usually feature running kids, oppressed women in traditional clothes and/or from broken families, ethnic or religious minorities that have fled their homeland during a soviet-backed coup, exotic spices and old wise men. Shunning this, the educated EAW will casually reach out for the unabridged version of the national epic poem, all twelve volumes of it, and absent-mindedly mutter ‘Oh what an exquisite edition, this one is much better than the one I have at home. I might just buy it.’
This EAW also knows the up and coming, underground local literary scene before it becomes mainstream back home, so he or she is able to entertain guests by proffering such astute analysis as ‘Yes the book that won him the best Francophone writer of the year is not bad, but his earlier work is just something else.’
Finally, the true hallmark of the intellectually superior EAW is to engage in lengthy and informed discussions with local intellectuals, best if in front of other EAWs and in smoky café and bars frequented by the intelligentsia and sufficiently tucked in the back alleys of the old city that only a well-navigated EAW would know about.