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Words Without Borders: The World Through the Eyes of Writers: An Anthology

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  152 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Featuring the work of more than 28 writers from upwards of 20 countries, Words Without Borders: The World through the Eyes of Writers transports us to the frontiers of the new literature for the twenty-first century.

In these pages, some of the most accomplished writers in world literature–among them Edwidge Danticat, Ha Jin, Cynthia Ozick, Javier Marias, and Nobel laureate
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 13th 2007 by Anchor (first published January 1st 2007)
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The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan PoeThe Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins GilmanThe Valley of Unknowing by Philip SingtonThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre DumasOne Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
104th out of 139 books — 29 voters

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David Sasaki
Jun 08, 2008 David Sasaki rated it it was amazing
Words Without Borders: The world through the eyes of writers is less a collection of short stories and more a marvelous and inspirational entryway into the universe of global literature. The name, however, is somewhat (and I assume unintentionally) ironic as so many of the stories are grounded in nationalism - either with pride or with, as Horacio Castellanos Moya titles his story, revulsion. In fact, the dynamic between nationalism and global literature is touched on by Pramoedya Ananta Toer ...more
Mar 22, 2010 Amy rated it it was amazing
This anthology is an unusual collection of writing that contains poetry as well as excerpts of literary fiction. What makes it different from other anthologies is that each section is introduced by another author/writer who explains why they selected it for inclusion and how they were affected by it. All 28 of the sections have never before been published in English, and the contributors are diverse and eclectic. Produced by Words Without Borders, it continues their mission of shining light on t ...more
Aug 06, 2015 Kath rated it liked it
I really wanted to love every story in this collection, but it didn't happen. Many of the introductions talked about the great work of the writers, but then a different story was used. This made me think there were copyright issues involves, so many "second choice" replacements had to be used. I was overall disappointed with the Arabic they selected, though it was nice to meet new authors Saniyya Saleh and Adania Shibli. There were some other writers from around the world whose stories stuck out ...more
Feb 15, 2011 Phil rated it did not like it
Words Without Borders purports to show the world through the eyes of authors around the globe. In this way, the conceit is formed that the human condition is universal, while also highlighting the various idiosyncrasies of each time and place. I think that both goals were achieved, to a certain extent, but sometimes the surreal, or often downright bizzare nature of the writing (that seemed commonplace throughout the collected works) tended to choke out the overall appeal of any particular piece. ...more
Jun 07, 2012 Holmes rated it really liked it
Dozens of famous writers and editors recommending the very best of works from all around the world - it can't go wrong. So when I find myself not exactly enjoying this book, I guess the problem is me. I'm just not the literary type after all. I was tempted to abandon it half way, but I persisted. Then fate had it that I was stranded with nothing but the book in McDonald's for two hours, so I took a really deep breath and wolfed down the last ten or so stories, and I choked on one - it was a litt ...more
Feb 01, 2008 lia rated it really liked it
Whew, it took me forever to read this. Words Without Borders is a project of Bard College, and this collection culls some famous and/or respected writers to pick a writer and story or excerpt from an author from a particular part of the world. It arranged in a sequential way--you travel through certain parts of the world as they come. The intros to each story are written by the reccomender, and were often as interesting or beautiful as the stories themselves. I didn't read all of them, I had to ...more
This book is great and I think more people should read it. It's nice to expose yourself to literature outside of your own country and outside of your own language.
Aug 13, 2008 Christina rated it it was amazing
The only thing that the stories in this anthology have in common is that this is the first time they have been translated into English. My favorite story was "Faint Hints of Tranquility" by the Palestinian author Adania Shibli. I found this story of impotent love, rage and sadness very moving. You can find text of the story at -- however, all the stories in the anthology are worth reading, so I would recommend that you pick up a copy of the book to add to ...more
Jan 26, 2008 Rochelle rated it liked it
I absolutely loved some of the stories in this book. They were smart, funny, shocking and fresh. However, many of the stories in this collection totally fell flat-- they were simply tedious interludes before the next great story. It is hard to say whether this is because of the translations or not. This is one of the most uneven collections i have ever read-- a dizzying (sometimes delightfully so, sometimes painfully so) trip around the world.
Sep 05, 2016 Cathryn rated it liked it
As always with story collections, a pretty mixed bag, but always fun to read in translation, particularly from lesser-translated languages/cultures
Dec 27, 2008 godot rated it liked it
This book is one to read slowly. The works are translated into English from their original languages, but amounts of the perspective of the authors come through the transition. The works and words have remarkable detail that connects the world in surprising places and characters. These are not big name writers. But real writers. Worth a trip to the library for this one.
Feb 12, 2011 Jenny rated it it was ok
I didn't finish this, and I probably won't, despite usually feeling compelled to end a book once I start it. My to-read pile is huge, and full of things I will probably find more engaging. The first few stories are fine, but didn't exactly grab my attention. I'm not sure if that's due to a cultural divide, or simply a distaste for bizarre modern short stories on my part.
Elisabeth Jansen
Jun 01, 2011 Elisabeth Jansen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really good collection that introduced me to a talented and diverse pool of contemporary world writers. Though I didn't love everything (a good thing), I appreciate the scope. There's a bit of everything for anyone who appreciates writing, and it's a great introduction to the different styles and subject matter of various world regions.
Jul 29, 2008 Amanda rated it it was ok
there are some great short stories in here; but most of the stories were tough for me to get into. If you really enjoy reading other styles of story telling from around the world, pick this up from the library, and just be prepared to skim a couple stories. Course, then again, maybe you ll like it better than i did.
Mar 11, 2009 Franky added it
It took me awhile to read this book. I really enjoyed the stories at the beginning. I was in the middle of relocating through the middle stories and then was able to really enjoy the last stories in the book. I also liked being able to read about the translator, recommender and author of each story. It was great!
Jun 27, 2008 Robleywelliver is currently reading it
We are reading this in my Intro to Literature course and it is spectacular. Wonderful short stories, many of which have never been translated into English before. The authors are spectacular and the text provides insights into the experiences of residents of the rest of the world.
Aug 04, 2007 arafat rated it really liked it
Excellent anthology of translated writings from across the world. Each piece comes with a good introduction by a famous writer of the same respective tradition. I picked it up at the library, but am now tempted to buy/own it!
Mar 23, 2010 Lisa rated it liked it
i <3 anthologies for finding new writers, and this was a pretty good one. words without borders generally seems like a cool .org, and the online magazine is pretty good too... and free!
Apr 05, 2010 Margaret rated it it was ok
As with any anthology I liked some more than others. Still, a very interesting premise for creating an anthology and you are guaranteed to find a few new writers you want to look into.
Oct 18, 2010 Kate rated it liked it
Recommends it for: vagabonds, itinerants
Recommended to Kate by: PN6019 .W67 2007
Shelves: short-stories
The petals, then, have fallen from the almond trees before I had a chance to touch them.

Again, this world that promised to be eternal has disappeared.
Jan 25, 2008 Recs rated it it was ok
mmm. i don't know if a lot was lost in the translation of these stories. i didn't read all of them. just wasn't really into it.
Jun 12, 2010 Dave rated it liked it
So far it's been hit and miss, but more hits than misses. The Iraqi and Indonesian authors have been highlights.
Nov 14, 2009 John rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Stories Read:
"Light Weight Champ" - Juan Villoro
"The Sheika's Condition" - Mario Bellatin
Nov 18, 2007 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Picked this up during one of the PEN lecture series earlier in 2007. Great short stories!
Feb 28, 2012 Julia rated it liked it
didn't finish this, but it was nice. some disturbing stories, some entertaining.
Sep 12, 2008 Abraham rated it it was ok
Too many tastes, not enough of a meal.... I couldn't finish this...
Charlane Brady
Apr 14, 2009 Charlane Brady marked it as to-read
Hope to read by the end of the year (09).
Kate Raven
Jun 08, 2010 Kate Raven rated it really liked it
plane reading
Luke marked it as to-read
Oct 12, 2016
Jin Woo
Jin Woo marked it as to-read
Sep 29, 2016
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