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on 13 July 2013
This anthology, edited by Lynda Prescott, is one of a number of set-texts that are needed if you are studying the sixty credit Open University (OU) Level 1 humanities course, AA100 'The Arts Past and Present'. It is an introductory course made for new students to experience a plethora of arts disciplines before deciding on a particular specialism. This book is meant to aid understanding within the third block of the module, 'Cultural Encounters', and is intended to be used in approaching the discipline of English language and literature studies. Lynda Prescott, herself, is a senior lecturer for the OU in the UK, and has authored and edited a range of Open University material for various courses throughout the humanities department. I studied AA100 in the year of 2011, and have subsequently gained a Certificate of Higher Education in Humanities, focusing on the English Language and creative writing as my specialism. It is only now, having finished my latest module U214 'Worlds of English', that I have returned to this book, looking over the short stories that were not the focus of AA100 in particular, whilst also exploring old ground.
The theme of the anthology is, of course, 'difference'. This echoes a lot of the material in the 'Cultural Encounters' block of AA100 and throughout U214, and is meant to focus on the many varieties of English around the world, uniting people in one lingua franca, whilst also planting seeds of prejudice when cultural norms are either challenged or ignored. 'A World of Difference' explores the short story genre across the five continents of America, Asia, Africa, Australia and Europe, and provides voices from many cultures and ethnic groups that resonate experiences of migration and community presence. The anthology literally sweeps you across the map and gives the reader a sense of diversity within the English language, both in the content of the stories themselves and in the language used by the specific characters/narration therein.
Each entry within has a brief introduction, which explains who the author is and their motivation for entering into the genre of the short story, along with brief career highlights and how their story fits into the overall theme of the book. There is also a preface authored by Lynda Prescott at the beginning, explaining her reasons and motivations for putting together the collection of short tales, and how the theme of difference permeates throughout the anthology of cultural encounters. Selected authors such as Nadine Gordimer, V.S. Naipaul and Amy Tan, amongst others (fifteen altogether), make up this collection of fictional, yet fiercely realistic tales of immigration, cultural anxieties and transitional pressures within the mid-to-late twentieth century. If a particular author catches your attention, the introduction to each entry usually includes a small list of their highlighted works, otherwise Prescott has provided 'selected further reading', regarding the genre of the short story and other such contemporary collections to explore.
'A World of Difference' makes a worthwhile addition to the aspiring and professional linguist's bookshelf and, as an Open University set-text, provides the level 1 student of AA100 with a pleasant introduction to the complexity of the English language that is fuelled by world history and global politics.
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VINE VOICEon 4 April 2009
This is a superb collection of short stories. Although designed to be used as part of an Open University course, it stands alone in its own right as a rich collection of stories by writers from around the world, connected by a loose theme of cultural difference. Many of the stories feature characters who, for various reasons, sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, sometimes mundane, have been dislocated from their homeland. The range of authors is super - from well know writers such as Zadie Smith, VS Naipaul, Peter Carey to others who may not be so well known - you're sure to find a new author whose work appeals to you.

Particular favourites included Rohinton Mistry's 'Squatter', a delightful story about an Indian chef in America, Peter Carey's 'American Dreams', a dark tale about a small Australian town, and Alan Sillitoe's 'Pit Strike', an emotional tale about a miner supporting his colleagues.

Warmly recommended.
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In the valuable Preface to this Anthology of Short Stories from Five Continents, the editor explains the principle on which she has collected this particular set of fifteen stories by such writers as Nadine Gordimer, Amy Tan, Raymond Carver, Bernard Malamud, William Trevor, Peter Carey, Zadie Smith, Alan Sillitoe, Rohinton Mistry, V.S Naipaul and others. That principal is that the stories should be about the experience of people born into one culture and then living in another one.

The stories are all of high quality; but a few of them are open-ended, and when they are, that detracted a little from my enjoyment of them: personally, I like a short story to have a shape which includes a satisfying conclusion.
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on 23 April 2014
There's not much point of reviewing the stories themselves, as of course you'll come to your own conclusion on how you feel about them.

I purchased this book as part of my OU course in Arts Past & Present, which centered on one story in particular regarding freedom of a chap from India in 1960's America. That in itself was a fantastic story and an interesting insight in to a different culture from our own.

As for the other stories, I have had a quick glance through and I will definitely be revisiting some in the future. A nice little book to expand your mind if you like that idea!
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on 28 June 2016
Well, not sure what to say about this book. I bought it for my course but I also left the course as my tutor was a hit and miss source of information. It seems a good lay out and there is a good introduction to individual stories. But that's where it ends
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on 20 August 2013
A World of Difference by Lynda Prescott no doubt baffles booksellers as it flies off the shelves periodically. It’s a set book on an Open University course, but deserves a much wider audience. It contains some fifteen wonderful stories from the likes of Zadie Smith and Peter Carey, a little bonus is an mini biography of each author.
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on 27 July 2013
Bought as a set book for upcoming OU course. Have started to read it and found the stories to be very interesting and challenging in that they portray life in different areas of the world. In fact life in a world that appears very different from mine!
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on 9 February 2014
Bought this for my Open University course and read it, nay devoured it, as soon as it arrived. As in all anthologies, didn't love every story, but all are brilliantly written and ranged from good to astounding.
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on 14 October 2012
After a long day, I really do not have the energy to follow on with a story. I often find I spend most of my reading time back-tracking to remember where I was, then get sleepy and before I know it, the alarm has gone off the next morning. With a short story, it is just enough to engage me, give me food for thought, and I can read a new story the next evening. I just love short stories and this collection is fab!My Mother is a Crocodile and Other Surprises
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on 6 January 2010
This is a set book for an Open University Arts course which is why I bought it. However, I enjoyed reading this in its own right. The stories are wonderful, from the first to the last. Some have really stayed in my mind. I loved the first story by Nadime Gordimer - couldn't get it out of my head for days, and like another reviewer, I loved the Ana Menendez story. William Trevor's story about Ireland also resonated.

Some favourite authors are in there: Alan Sillitoe and V.S. Naipaul, however I have been enriched by the stories from authors whose works I hadn't read before and will be looking to read more.

I looked forward to reading this book in the evenings after a tiring day and will re-read my favourites again. Highly recommended.
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