Growth of the Expat Genre

At the risk of sounding entirely self-serving, I am going to share with you a development I hope expats*, cross-culturals, current and adult TCKs/CCKs, global nomads and repatriates alike will find heartening: the rise of books chronicling all and sundry aspects of expatriate life.

I know my mentor, Jo Parfitt, will find this gratifying as she’s spent the better part of her expat entrepreneurial writing and publishing career championing the creation of just such a genre.

I like to keep up with what is happening in the expat book world, and frequently find myself reading such books. I also write book reviews – primarily here in my regular features ‘Riveting Expat Reads’ and ‘Expat Authors’, but occasionally for print and online media venues. I do this because I want to share with expats, readers, and expat readers those books I find of value in navigating our way in lives led in other countries or cultures.

You name it, I’m intrigued by it all: non-fiction accounts, memoirs, novels, short stories, how-to and do-it-yourself and self-help books for making life in an exotic, foreign or strikingly unfamiliar locale. Many are well written – some quite so – and they all tend to offer kernels of truth, parables to learn from, and heartfelt advice to ease the way for others.

And how, you ask, might this be misconstrued as self-serving?

My book The Emotionally Resilient Expat: Engage, Adapt and Thrive Across Cultures (Summertime Publishing) was released over the summer. In the interest of full disclosure, I was recently informed that a review would be forthcoming in the quarterly magazine, American in Britain, a sister publication to the monthly newsletter and website aimed at American expats in the UK, The American Hour. In the course of discussion, I was asked whether I’d like to write a review as well, and it could be of any expat book of my choosing.

There was no quid pro quo involved. I could graciously say no and still the review of my book would go forward. The person making the offer simply knows I read, write about and help publicize books in the expat genre.

A quick rundown of the other books being featured in the September issue and I knew immediately which book I’d review: an oldie but goodie (if a book published two years ago can be considered ‘old’) in Julia Simens’ Emotional Resilience and The Expat Child. I’ve written on this site twice about Julia’s book,  first in Riveting Expat Reads and then in the Expat Authors’ post Writing My Book. Her book fits nicely with the other books being reviewed, and what a great way to introduce it to a new audience of expats/cross-culturals.

Many thanks to the good folks at The American Hour/American in Britain for their support of this genre. And if you’re interested, here are the American in Britain Quarterly Expat Book Reviews Sep 2013.

Now there is still significant work to be done as few online and brick-and-mortar booksellers have an explicit expat genre. On Amazon, my book is slotted into broad subcategories such as family travel, emigration/immigration and self-help. Seriously. Maybe it’s just me, but I happen to think there’s a little difference between books on visiting Disney theme parks around the world and those about living cross-culturally.

The wonderful thing is that the number of venues sharing reviews of books in the expat genre continues to grow. Just off the top of my head I can think of The Telegraph, Global Living, Expat Arrivals, Expatica, Expat Focus, Expat Women, Expat Woman, Xpat, and IAmExpat, not to mention Summertime Publishing’s Expat Bookshop, and on myriad sites of individual expat bloggers.

I’m sure this list is just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, why not tell me of other expat/cross-cultural sites and magazines featuring expat book reviews and I’ll add them to a running list? That way we’ll all know of the growing number of places to catch reviews of expat books.

If you know of other magazines and websites which run reviews of expat/cross-cultural books, please mention them in the comments!

*I use the term expat in its original Latin form: ex (outside) patria (one’s country). I leave it up to the individual to determine whether that is their birth or passport country, where they spent the preponderance of their childhood, the country to which they have the greatest affinity, or so on.






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