The survey was commissioned by the global literary journal Wasafiri – which means ‘cultural traveller’ in Swahili – celebrated its 25th anniversaryo on Friday.
Indra Sinha, Amit Chaudhuri, Blake Morrison and 22 other authors were asked to pick the title that they thought had most influenced world writing over the past quarter-century, the journal announced on its website.
Marquez’s work, published in Spanish in 1967 and translated into English three years later, was the only book named more than once. It was chosen by three authors: Chika Unigwe, Sujata Bhatt and Nii Ayikwei Parkes.
“I don’t think any book has shaped world literature to the extent that the internet has in the past 25 years. I believe that the last book that has had a significant impact on world literature was One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez,” wrote Bhatt, an Indian poet.
Salman Rushdie also looms large on the list. Indian poet Tabish Khair named The Satanic Verses as the most influential book of the past 25 years, while Ghanaian-Scots novelist Lesley Lokko chose Midnight’s Children.
Britain-based Indian novelist Indra Sinha too said “one has to consider Midnight’s Children (1984), as its success opened doors for so many new writers” though his choice was Lolita for Vladimir Nabokov’s “astonishing virtuoso performance, which has never been excelled”.
Among other names featuring on the list are V.S. Naipaul’s A House for Mr. Biswas, chosen by David Dabydeen and Quarratulain Hyder’s Aag ka Darya or River of Fire, named by Hirsh Sawhney.
For Kolkata-based poet and novelist Amit Chaudhuri, Collected Poems by Elizabeth Bishop remains the most important book of the past 25 years.