Literature Student Henry Cors F23 Takes On Goal of Reading a Book from Every Country

“My arrival at Hampshire was a surprise,” says Henry, “but I’ve come to find this place to be an excellent spot to live and to learn.”
“I study literature in the broadest sense,” he says. “I’m interested in all genres, traditions, and so on, so I suppose you’d call me a comparativist, but more precisely, I study Russian and Japanese literature with a focus on the theories of [the Russian philosopher and literary critic] Mikhail Bakhtin, as well as studying how translation affects a work.
“I was inspired to read a book from every country by a desire to read more broadly,” he says. His plan is to read some 200 titles by the time he graduates, in spring 2025. “I noticed I hadn’t read much from the global South,” he says, “and kind of expanded that into this project. I’ve also followed Ann Morgan’s blog, ‘A Year of Reading the World,’ which has been useful as both resource and inspiration.”
Henry is about a quarter of the way through his challenge and has discovered lots of fascinating books. Some favorites, he says, have been The Ministry of Pain, by Dubravka Ugrešić (Croatia), In the Shadow of the Banyan, by Vaddey Ratner (Cambodia), A Land Without Jasmine, by Wadji al-Ahdal (Yemen), and The Tale of Aypi, by Ak Welsapar (Turkmenistan).
“I’ve learned a lot about other cultures’ writing styles and literary traditions, and how publishing and translation affect the ability to find texts in translation,” he says. “São Tomé and Principe as well as Palau have been hard countries to find books from.”
Henry’s advisor is Professor of Comparative Literature and Visual Studies Jennifer Bajorek, whose Banned Books course he’s taking this semester. “The way the class is set up is that students make proposals detailing the merits of two books that have been banned and why we should read them,” she says. “We then vote on these proposals to create a final syllabus/booklist, buy the books, and read them in class. But we can’t select all of the books — only some. Henry got the idea of forming a club to read the others.”
Henry says his book club is in the works: “There’s been lots of interest and I’m hoping to meet a few times before the semester ends, and possibly continue it in the future.”

Article Tags