Read comics, cartoons and other “cheap and crazy stuffs” to become a great NW2iE (Nepali writer writing in English) – Just as I did!
Question: What was the first piece of fiction you read that had an impact on you?
Answer: I did not grow up with many books, especially children’s books. In second grade, a schoolmate lent me a copy of “The Arabian Nights”—we both thought it was a book for children—and told me I had three days to read it. Oh my, I had three wild days of reading, remembering so many vivid details without understanding any! It made me laugh so hard at the time; when I reread the book a few years ago, I laughed even harder.
The above is Yiyun Li’s answer, made on June 14, 2010, to The New Yorker’s short story collection “20 Under 40” and its Q. & A. session.
Born in 1972 in Beijing, Li’s answer indeed fits my own private juvenile literacy rate in India in the English language some 30 years before her birth, and her words largely portray my own primary-school access – none at all! – to reading materials in the late 1940s and early 1950s in Darjeeling.