Wanted: Non-Western settings!

5 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Wanted
Uncle Sam wants YOU!

I want YOU to write my next read!

Have you ever noticed how frickin’ many of the books that are out or coming out are set in a Western culture? I don’t mean like cowboy boots and spurs, I mean a Western belief system and Western cultural rules. I can understand why – a lot of authors are from a Western culture, and most of their audiences are from a Western culture too. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be interesting to read about somewhere else!

This trend has been slowly changing. There are several recent books that use less Western cultural elements – I just finished Shadow and Bone which is set in a Russia-like fantasy world, Eon and Eona use an Oriental calendar year and belief system (apologies if I’ve offended anyone, I don’t know enough about those belief systems to be able to tell which one it is) and The Immortal Rules references the occasional Japanese (I think) cultural element.

I really appreciate these books, because I’m lazy. I know, awful of me to say. I love learning about other cultures, but I don’t want to do it out of a textbook. I either want to GO THERE and find out for myself, or I want to read an interesting story about it. Funnily enough, you learn quite a bit about other cultures by reading fictional stories about them, even if some of the stuff isn’t quite true.

Some settings I want to see, for any writers who get to it before I do:

  • Retell some non-Western fairy tales! There are tons of great ones, but some of my favorites that I rarely see are Baba Yaga (Eastern European) and the Firebird (Russian).
  • Set a story in India – I would LOVE to learn more about India and see something set there. I, personally, would probably write a steampunk set there – the exotic culture clashing with the English industrial revolution seems like the perfect playground for a writer’s mind (See Scott Westerfeld’s  Behemoth for ideas)
  • A modern contemporary in an oriental culture – when I think of China or Japan, I think of Geishas and dragons and Mulan. I’m pretty sure the culture is WAY different now, and I’d love to read about it.
  • Technically it’s still Western, sort of, but wouldn’t it be interesting to read about the ancient cultures in South America? Or maybe even modern cultures there. I’m not picky!

What other places would you like to read about? What do you think the next trend in literature should be?

Have you ever read something and thought “Gee, I wish there were more books like that!”? Or maybe you’ve had an idea and thought “Why aren’t there more books about that out there?” Wanted is a new semi-regular feature at Creativity’s Corner to discuss all those books that don’t exist, but we wish they did!

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5 Responses to “Wanted: Non-Western settings!”

  1. I find that there are a lot of dystopian books, or post-apocalyptic books where the US is the only place left! Those books bug me — and not just because I’m a Canadian!

    I do really love stories in other settings … one of my favourite books is The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buckman, as well as Snow Flower & The Secret Fan, by Lisa See. Wonderful books with great imagery, and a real insight to the culture.

    I do wish there was more YA set in other places … a lot of it seems US-based! I’m not agains the US or anything, but it’d be nice to see something different.

    • Anne says:

      I KNOW! That was another one that was bugging me when I first thought up this post, but then, of course, I forgot to put it in =/ Have you ever seen Firefly? One of the things I like about it is it’s sort of post-apocalyptic, and while it assumes that the US survives, it *also* assumes China does! Pretty much every character speaks both English and Mandarin, and it’s great to think that we’re not the only ones!

      I agree – I’m not against the US either (heck, I’m a citizen, even when sometimes I wish I weren’t, I’m that embarrassed) but I think something different would be nice to see. Usually when I want something different, though, I have to just go to translated manga – which is nice, but I think it’d be great to see some BOOKS in different settings.

  2. Yael Itamar says:

    Have you ever heard of “Flameweaver” by Margaret Ball. It’s a fantasy novel set in India, around the time of colonialism. It’s kind of an older book, though.

  3. Briana says:

    Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson is a fairy tale retelling set in India! I remember thinking it was a unique setting the time I read it, since so many retold fairy tales end up in pseudo-European fantasy countries.

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