FantasyCon has me thinking a lot about myself and where I fit within genre and if I fit in at all. It's not my objective to cause drama or add in unnecessary angst, but I continue to consider myself an outsider to the UK genre scene. No matter how close I feel I'm getting thanks to the Internet and the relevant social media channels, this proximity is illusionary.
This thought popped in, when I discussed books with Lavie Tidhar during the weekend. He kept on mentioning names without any hint of recognition from me. I'm not that good of an actor as the best I can do is kinda nod with understanding rather than imitate the spark of remembrance. So, he just flat out asked “What have you been reading?” and it had me thinking. What have I been reading all this time? Since I'm a slow reader, the answer is not much, but even my speed is not the only factor.
I can argue that I'm young. I'm certainly among the youngest genre reviewers and promoters of the genre, if not the youngest, though probably not any more. So certainly the majority of the people have had a great head start and have read more books. I, on the other hand, turned to non-translated English titles five years ago and this only happened, because I functioned as a reviewer, a position, which granted me access to glimpse what has been happening westwards, while my country tried to overcome its communist past [it's failing by the way].
It all boils down to me not being in the UK, because even if I haven't been an avid reader from an early age, I would have been exposed to the full spectrum of the genre. I'd have a subconscious sort of link to the scene's roots. I'd have more chances to discuss relevant titles through the years. Seen or heard about the various awards and ceremonies.* I have none of that, so conversations about the books that come out or are already out there will be challenging. Keeping track of what's coming or has become trendy will continue to be a conscious effort. Name recognition will remain difficult.
I'm not bitter about it. I'm far from considering myself a unique case. I'll just have to fight for the knowledge or you know, move to the UK.
* I only heard about the Man Booker Prize after a year of reviewing.