In the 21st century, few writers want to be classified by gender, ethnicity, or the language in which they write. They’d prefer to be considered just writers now, mindful of Elizabeth Bishop’s observation on gender that “art is art and to separate writings, paintings, musical compositions, etc. into two sexes is to emphasize values that are not art.” Of the Modern Library’s top 100 novels of the 20th century, only nine were by women (two by Edith Wharton). Like the Modern Library’s, most best-of lists include only those written in English. And less than one percent of literary fiction and poetry published in the U.S. are works in translation.
Joining Messud are National Book Award-winner Norman Rush, novelist and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lorraine Adams, Orange Prize-winner Andrea Levy, and Israeli novelist Alex Epstein to take on some of the toughest questions facing world literature today.