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The 2012 challenge

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I decided last month that 2012’s reading challenge would be world fiction, and particularly fiction from countries whose literature I had not read before. I asked for, and received, a number of suggested titles. Some I already had on my wants list; one or two I even have on the TBR pile. Using those suggestions, and one or two titles I had my eye on, I put together a list of books for the challenge. It went like this:

1 The Fat Years, Chan Koonchung (China)
2 Fever and Spear, Javier Marías (Spain)
3 My Name is Red, Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)
4 Jamilia, Chinghiz Aitmatov (Kyrgyzstan)
5 Xala: A Novel, Ousmane Sembène (Senegal)
6 Impossible Stories, Zoran Živković (Serbia)
7 Correction, Thomas Bernhard (Austria)
8 The Famished Road, Ben Okri (Nigeria)
9 The Tongue’s Blood Does Not Run Dry, Assia Djebar (Algeria)
10 Labyrinths, Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina)
11 One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia)
12 The War of the End of the World, Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru)

A good mix, I thought. Three each from Europe, Africa and South America, two from the Near East, and one from the Far East. (I’ve read a number of Arabic writers, so I’m discounting them from this challenge).

And then I looked at the list again and discovered something was wrong with it. There was only a single female writer among the twelve: Assia Djebar from Algeria.

So it was back to the drawing-board. After some research on Wikipedia and Amazon, I came up with an alternative list:

1 The Fat Years, Chan Koonchung (China)
2 Fever and Spear, Javier Marías (Spain)
3 My Name is Red, Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)
4 The War of the End of the World, Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru)
5 Jamilia, Chinghiz Aitmatov (Kyrgyzstan)
6 The Famished Road, Ben Okri (Nigeria)
7 The Tongue’s Blood Does Not Run Dry, Assia Djebar (Algeria)
8 The Piano Teacher, Elfriede Jelinek (Austria)
9 The Door, Magda Szabó (Hungary)
10 The Butcher’s Wife, Li Ang (Taiwan)
11 So Long a Letter, Mariama Bâ (Senegal)
12 The Ship of Fools, Cristina Peri Rossi (Uruguay)

The list is now half female and half male, and still maintains a nice global spread. There are three titles each from Europe and Africa, and two each from the Near East, Far East and South America.

As in previous years, each month I will read one of the books from the list, and then I’ll write about it. Hopefully, I’ll manage to stick to the schedule, which is something I’ve failed to do several times in the past.

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4 thoughts on “The 2012 challenge

  1. Pingback: New Year, new books « It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

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  4. Pingback: 55 reading questions « It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

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