PDA

View Full Version : ESL writers - success stories?



goldmund
10-13-2011, 09:22 PM
I've been wondering what's the actual probability for a person writing in English as a foreign language to make it big, or at least, make it modest ;-)
After all, writing fiction demands more than just grammar and proper pronouns.

There are three successful EFL writers I know:
James Conrad
Jerzy Kosinski (both Poles)
Vladimir Nabokov

Do you know any contemporary ones?

And how about your accomplishments?

As for me, I've started to learn English at the age of 7.
I'm quite-an-accomplished writer in Poland, as for the USA - I've managed to publish 2 short stories (in Quick Fiction and Hobart Online). It was a thrill to see my English accepted, but then again, the stories were very short.

EDIT: actually the title of the thread should be EFL writers -- I've just learnt about the difference ;-)

Deizelcore
10-13-2011, 09:31 PM
I believe Haruki Murakami started with English as his language of choice (mainly because he was a huge fan of J. D. Salinger) when he was just starting out, quickly reverted to Japanese though.

I believe that it's quite a blessing - being able to write fiction in multiple tongues, being able to take a unique, linguistically unbiased look at the world. Beautiful. It really is.

Bubastes
10-13-2011, 09:41 PM
Sherry Thomas is a successful historical romance writer. Chinese is her first language.

shakeysix
10-13-2011, 09:59 PM
Francisco Jimenez --Cajas de Carton (The Circuit).

My high school has a large Spanish speaking population. I teach ELL and the kids like reading Jimenez because he was born in Mexico and spoke only Spanish until grade school. He is quite a guy--now he is a college professor in the US.

There are 3 books in the Cajas de Carton series. The first one ends with the family being rounded up by Migra. The last one deals with his first years in college. We don't always make it through all 3 but we always read the first one. There are several other authors who spoke Spanish as children; Cisneros, Anaya and Julia Alvarez come to mind. Richard Rodriguez, too. My students--English and Spanish speaking-- like Jimenez best. We read in Spanish and English because I also teach Spanish.--s6

Maryn
10-13-2011, 11:31 PM
Petru Pompescu, a successful author in Romania, took more than 15 years to learn English well enough that he felt the confidence to submit the manuscript for "Almost Adam," which I very much enjoyed. Had I not read about him, I would not have realized he was not a native English speaker.

Maryn, who bought it in hardcover after reading the library copy

goldmund
10-13-2011, 11:48 PM
Wow, I see that Petru Popescu was the screenwriter for The Last Wave! Must look into his work, thanks.

Torgo
10-13-2011, 11:51 PM
I've edited a few picture books that were by ESL authors, and they have an interesting flavour. Just had a very good novel in by a German woman writing in English, too.

goldmund
10-14-2011, 11:16 PM
So, it is possible... one thing the authors have in common, however, is that they were living in an English-speaking country. Being submerged in language hones the skills better than any course.

Are there other EFL AW-ers who've managed to publish in English?

helga
10-17-2011, 08:51 PM
Are there other EFL AW-ers who've managed to publish in English?


I have ;o)
OK, itís not exactly fiction, as itís, in fact, my memoir (plus a bit of popular psychology), but itís written by my cat, so some fictional element is present ;o)

Robbert
10-18-2011, 06:39 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by goldmund http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=6645961#post6645961)

Are there other EFL AW-ers who've managed to publish in English?

No,not me, but I belong to the strange breed of writing in a non-native tongue. Whilst there are times I tend to think it's advantageous, i.e. language in use is likely to differ from a native's set, I'm utterly clueless as far as POV of lit agents/professionals is concerned.

Since J.Conrad has been mentioned: I must say, I found his range of vocabulary quite impressive (Heart of Darkness), but his writing style wasn't my cup of tea at all.

Robbert
10-18-2011, 06:57 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by goldmund http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=6645961#post6645961)

Are there other EFL AW-ers who've managed to publish in English?

No,not me, but I belong to the strange breed of writing in a non-native tongue. Whilst there are times I tend to think it's advantageous, i.e. language in use is likely to differ from a native's set, I'm utterly clueless as far as POV of lit agents/professionals is concerned.

Since J.Conrad has been mentioned: I must say, I found his range of vocabulary quite impressive (Heart of Darkness), but his writing style wasn't my cup of tea at all.

Nickie
10-18-2011, 09:26 PM
I never speak English at home (being Flemish) but I do write in that language. I don't claim to be famous (yet) but I think the name Nickie Fleming is slowly spreading around. At least my Facebook page draws 'likes' right now, and some people begin to interact on it. Hopefully it will correspond with more sales, but that remains to German Philology (that is a widely based study of language) but I only learned to speak fluently by spending my school holidays in England or the States. I was lucky to have parents who could afford it. Without bragging, I can say I speak like an American while being in the States (everyone thinks I'm from New England) or like a Brit while in Great-Britain (somewhere higher than London).

goldmund
10-19-2011, 12:17 AM
Congrats, guys!

EFL writers could have an advantage in that they can't write automatically and have to pay bigger attention to what they're doing; I've yet to see "wierd" spelled this way by a non-native speaker.
The obvious disadvantage is that the writing takes more time (which is a result of the above) and, sadly, the book can often feel somehow odd to a native speaker.

Not to mention the damned "false friends" :-(


EDIT:
It also seems that the natives are often subjected to lots of improper grammar&vocab (peers at school etc.) while EFL writers learn their language from the "cleanest" source -- other writers. Unfortunately, this also takes away an ear for a good, street dialogue...

Commutinggirl
11-17-2011, 11:01 AM
Interesting, I have been wondering the same exact thing. I write in English. I lived for a long time in the US (about 7 years) and studied in English for about 8...My writing in French just does not flow as it used to and I feel more comfortable creating plots and characters in English. Am I sometimes worried that my skills though may not be enough? yes...but hope dies last.

Anna L.
11-17-2011, 12:27 PM
I can't recall who it was, but I once read an agent's blog post in which she mentioned she had a writer on her roaster who was a native French speaker. I'm French-Canadian so hearing that pleased me. I'm getting there, I think.

Commutinggirl
11-17-2011, 02:37 PM
Thatīs good to know and encouraging :-)

Torgo
11-17-2011, 03:03 PM
I once read an agent's blog post in which she mentioned she had a writer on her roaster who was a native French speaker.

The monster!

stray
11-17-2011, 03:14 PM
Joseph Conrad and Jack Kereouc are two that spring to mind.

Anna L.
11-17-2011, 03:33 PM
The monster!

Embarrassing! But I'll leave it as it is because it's more amusing that way.

Anna L.
11-17-2011, 03:40 PM
It also seems that the natives are often subjected to lots of improper grammar&vocab (peers at school etc.) while EFL writers learn their language from the "cleanest" source -- other writers. Unfortunately, this also takes away an ear for a good, street dialogue...

Yes, this is true. I have no idea what English dialogue sounds like outside of movies. You get a feel for it through good books but it's still an issue in some cases. Good thing I'm a fantasy gal. I can get away with odd dialogue. ;)

SaraP
11-28-2011, 02:44 AM
Joseph Conrad and Jack Kereouc are two that spring to mind.

Jack Kerouac had French-Canadian parents, but he was born in the US. Or so says Wikipedia.

Bushrat
11-28-2011, 02:52 AM
I learned English in school, starting in grade 5. After spending a year and a half in Canada, I moved here in '94 at age 24. I've been writing a column for a Canadian newspaper for over 4 years, as well as magazine articles for Canadian and US print magazines.
And I also write for a magazine in my home country, in my first language, and have a literary agent there who's trying to find a publisher for a book I wrote in my first language.
I'm currently working on a novel in English, geared at the Canadian (hey, and US) market. And half the time my brain ties itself into one giant knot when I have projects going in both languages ... so beware.

areteus
11-28-2011, 03:42 AM
Not sure what language he writes in (I suspect it may be Italian and translated to English which may disqualify him from this as I assume you mean those who write primarily in English regardless of original language) but Umberto Eco is a fairly well known writer who is not a native speaker.

Izz
11-28-2011, 04:13 AM
course.Are there other EFL AW-ers who've managed to publish in English?Rose Lemberg (http://roselemberg.net/) (even though she doesn't post here much anymore) is one such. She's not only published short stories at highly-regarded venues, she's also been nominated for poetry's Rhysling award, and edits a poetry zine.

dwriter68
12-08-2011, 06:56 AM
Spanish in my maiden tongue, having been born and raised in Argentina. I live in the U.S now and I can only write in English, my Spanish is not as rich and fluent as it used to be, even though I attended University there and all. As far as my writing, I ran for over a year a very successful column for a blog and did free lance work. I also wrote several screenplays in English one of them was optioned, never produced, by a producer for Lifetime and another was a finalist in a contest.
I regards of the novel I just finished, I already have some offers from a couple of publishers which commended me on my narrative.
Iím not famous by any means and my English is far from perfect, but I guess I believe it is possible.

mgberg
12-08-2011, 05:40 PM
That's funny. I just became a member the other day, and this is the exact question I was planning to ask when I logged on today.
I'm Swedish, and feel a need to try out the international market.

The reason I looked for a good international forum in the first place was that the "scene" in Sweden is a tad Ö unprofessional to my taste. Not to slam anyone (I'm no professional myself, far from it), but the really good writers tend to keep to themselves here. Internationally people seem more open and willing to share.

So in order to get initiated opinions and crit, I'm now considering writing some stuff in English... But I'm worried, just like other folks in this thread. I DO often form dialogue, paragraphs and concepts in English first, in my head, for some reason, but whether I could carry that instinct all the way or not, well, we shall see.

You seem to have a really nice forum going by the way, and I look forward to taking part.

/m

dwriter68
12-09-2011, 02:24 AM
I think the issue of foreigners writing in English goes beyond the language. As immigrants in the U.S. we have a different perspective and perception of our surroundings because we come from different cultures. With that being said, we might write about issues that do not necessarily concern the American market and therefore our writing, even if excellent, may not succeed on that merit alone.

benbradley
12-09-2011, 03:25 AM
Where's our Death Ray? I haven't seen him post in a Wong time.