East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Non-Native English Writers


Something bizarre just came up.
For the third time in two months, an article was published – this time by no less than WIRED, and penned by Bruce Sterling – about Italian genre fiction available to the English-speaking public, and for the third time my work was ignored.
Even in articles written by Italian writers.
And not just my self-published stories were ignored – which would not be strange1, considering those articles completely ignored any self-published book anyway.
No, even my traditionally published work was ignored, even when the articles talked wonderful things about the other books from my English-language Italian publisher, Acheron Books.
The other books, but not mine.

Which caused me to pause and ask myself…

C’mon, does my stuff suck that bad?

And mind you, that could well be the case – even if I am not convinced.
Not completely, at least.
So, what gives?

Turns out once again I’m the odd one out.
I write my English-language stories in English, without availing myself of the work of a translator.
This causes a strange paradox.
I am definitely not an English or an American writer.
But at the same time I am not an Italian author in translation, that being the category that is usually covered by the articles I mentioned, and indeed it is the category in which all my fellow authors in Acheron fall.
I’m stuck in between.


I am a strange critter, a Non-Native English Writer.
I am suspended in this strange gray area, the limbo of non-Anglophone authors that write in English, and are not translated.
Which is not a bad place, as far as limbos go.
I’m sitting here with Joseph Conrad and Vladimir Nabokov and Amitav Ghosh and Lin Yutang, but they tend to stay on their own, and I do, too.
Meanwhile, article writers pass by, but don’t look in this direction,because there’s nothing to see here anyway.

It’s not exactly pleasant, and it’s not exactly OK.
What should be an asset is turning into a drawback.
Less exposition, less reach, less readers, less sales.

Which sort of pisses me off, but it also means whatever I’m doing, I’m doing it right.
Or they wouldn’t ignore me.

  1. no, actually it is strange, considering this is the 21st century and self-publishing is serious business 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “Non-Native English Writers

  1. I don’t understand why asking Bruce Sterling to speak avout the Italian scifi scene, when it’s clear that he doesn’t know it at all. Otherwise, he had to mention the most important scifi authors (Evangelisti, Masali, Avoledo) in addition to Dario Tonani, and the new voices mostly significant as you, Girola, Forlani, and many others.
    Differently, we had to think about a marchetta (**) to his friends… but I strongly believe in the intellectual honesty of Sterling (I have no reasons to think differently). Therefore, my doubt is the same: why speaking of an argument you don’t know? Mah! (*)

    (*) Mah: Italian expression for a great, weird doubt.
    (**) untranslatable. But I think the meaning will be clear to all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You cannot obviously cover the whole scene in a single piece, and leaving out self-publishers like Alex Girola (that basically sells more books than most professionally published authors) is simply silly.
      SAs I said, my absence is simply explained by me being neither this nor that, and falling outside of classificative structures.
      Never doubted about Sterling’s intellectual honesty (he remains one of my favorite authors, especially for his essays), but after 18 years publishing professionally – if discontinuously – in English, I was a little peeved 😀

      Liked by 2 people

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