I cannot tell you how disgusting and fetishistic I find the “Muslim woman saved by Western culture” genre that Western readers gobble up to affirm their superiority and indulge morbid delight. Now, even more problematically, these covers are migrating to translated works unrelated to that theme, as if they’re representative of any Mideast or African lit. I wish an editor would see this.
It was last November that Adam Talib gave his talk about “Translating for Bigots,” and this May that Africa is a Country wrote about “The Dangers of a Single Book Cover.” There is a lot more to be said about how Arabic literature (in translation) is jacketed, and how this packaging affects how we experience books:
It’s not only six-year-old children who prefer the taste of foods that are packaged with licensed cartoon characters; adults also perceive a difference in the taste of potato chips depending on the colors on the bag. Although it seems that similar studies haven’t been done on dust jackets, surely it’s a small leap to believe that the outside of a book affects, at least in some way, how we perceive the contents.
That’s the theme — briefly discussed —…
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