This is not to say that we were not, or are not, “world literature.” We might be different from what passes for regular American lit, or as I like to call it, common literature. What I’m saying is that there is more other, scarier other, translated other, untranslatable other, the utterly strange other, the other who can’t stand you. Those of us allowed to speak are the tip of the iceberg. We are the cute other.
I use the term jokingly, but also deliberately. All of us on that world-literature list are basically safe, domesticated, just exotic enough to make our readers feel that they are liberal, not parochial or biased. That is, we are purveyors of comforting myths for a small segment of the dominant culture that would like to see itself as open-minded.
Rabih Alameddine on world lit.
This is just one small excerpt but I would strongly encourage everyone to go read the entirety of Alameddine’s essay, because it is very, very good.