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2012: a challenge


I have decided on my challenge for 2012. It will be world fiction. Each month, I will read a book written by an author who is a native of a country whose literature I’ve not read before. Unfortunately, these will have to be books published in English. While I might be able to puzzle my way through novels written in some languages, that would a) take me more than a month per book, and b) limit my choices to fiction from countries many of whom I’ve already read…

To date, I’ve read fiction from the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Egypt
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Lebanon
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Palestine
  • Poland
  • Russia
  • South Africa
  • Sudan
  • Sweden
  • UAE
  • UK
  • US
  • Yemen

I’m now looking for suggestions for novels from authors from countries not listed above. Any genre. But not books that are too huge. Fortunately, I’ve already at least one Chilean author, so while I do own a copy of Robert Bolaño’s 2666, I can read it at my leisure and not for this challenge.

So, get suggesting away. It would be nice if the books were readily available in the UK – either new or second-hand. And I’d probably sooner they weren’t from Anglophone countries. I’d also like a diverse list, covering as much of the globe as possible.

8 thoughts on “2012: a challenge

  1. Orhan Pamuk, “My Name is Red” (Turkish)
    Dubravka Ugrešić, “Baba Yaga Laid an Egg” (Croatian)

  2. I’d recommend anything by Zoran Zivkovic (Serbia). PS have a whole bunch of his stuff.

  3. In addition to the ones above, how about:

    Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina) – but those are collections, so…

    Julio Cortázar, Hopscotch

    Carlos Fuentes (Mexico) – Too many excellent possibilities there to name just one or two

    Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru) – The War of the End of the World

    Gabriel García Márquez, (Colombia) One Hundred Years of Solitude (or anything else by him, maybe Love and Other Demons, just to go against the grain)

    Javier Marías (Spain) – Your Face Tomorrow trilogy. Spy novels like I’ve never seen them written before, along with philosophical elements and other well-integrated literary elements.

    Cao Xueqin (China) – The Story of the Stone (five volumes). Written in the 18th century, so it’s after the Three Kingdoms era but before massive European involvement.

    Alejo Carpentier (Cuba) – The Lost Steps. Music and magical realism a half-generation before El Boom.

    Ernesto Cardenal (Nicaragua) – “Prayer for Marilyn Monroe” – one of the most moving and damning poems of the 20th century. I’d recommend any of his poetry collections, but I’m uncertain what their titles are in English.

    Jorge Amado (Brazil) – Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands. One living, one dead, each mingling to please the wife.

    Ben Okri (Nigeria) – The Famished Road – Brilliant.

    Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya) – Petals of Blood; Wizard of Crow – can’t decide which of the two I’d recommend most, so I’ll list both.

    Sadegh Hedayat (Iran), The Blind Owl – Hard to classify. Contains elements of the weird along with references to mid-20th century Iranian culture.

    Hopefully some or all of these will give you pleasurable reading in 2012 😀

  4. Austria
    Ingeborg Bachmann : Malina, The Book of Franza, Three Paths to the Lake

    Thomas Bernhard: Gargoyles, Old Masters, Correction, etc.

    Marlen Haushofer: The Wall The Attic We Murdered Stella

    Hermann Broch: The Death of Vergil

    Rainer Maria Rilke: The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

    Ibrahim al-Koni: Stone of Blood

    Luis Bernardo Honwana: We Killed Mangy Dog and Other Stories

    Eca de Queiroz: The Crime of father Amaro

    Fernando Pessoa: The Book of the Disquiet

    Josè Saramago: Blindness, etc.

    António Lobo Antunes : Good Evening from the things from here below , etc.

    J. M. Machado de Assis: Bras Cubas, Quincas Borba, Don Casmurro

    Mario de Andrade: Macunaima

    Ousmane Sembene: God’s Bits of Wood

    Tahar Ben Jalloun : Creature of Sand

    Nuruddin Farah: Sardines

    Ivory Coast
    Ahmadou Kouruma: Waiting for the vote of the wild animals

    Enrique Vila-Matas: Doctor Pasavento, Bartleby and Co.

    Ana Maria Matute: Forgotten King Gudù

    Spain (Catalunya)
    Mercè Rodoreda: The Time of The Doves, Death in Spring

    Chinghiz Aitmatov: The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years

    Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart etc.

    Karin Michaëlis: The Dangerous Age

    Karen Blixen: Ehrengard and Anecdotes of Destiny

    Assia Djebar: Women of Algiers in their Apartment

    Jean Ray: Malpertuis

    Robert Walser: Jakob von Gunten

    Agota Kristof:The Notebook, The Proof, The Third Lie: Three Novels

    Magda Szabo: The Door

    Frigyes Karinthy: Voyage to Faremido and Capillaria

    Sandor Marai: Embers

    Gyula Krudy: The Adventures of Sinbad

    Antal Szerb: The Pendragon Legend

    Émile Ollivier: Landscape of the Blind

    Patrick Chamoiseau: Solibo the Magnificent

    Wilson Harris:
    Palace of the Peacock

    Josè Lezama Lima: Paradiso

    Guillermo Cabrera Infante: Three Trapped Tigers

    Augusto Roa Bastos: I,the Supreme

    Well, there are a couple of long ones, I’m afraid. I’m not good at bullet-point descriptions, but you can go to Google and Wikipedia and ask a bit more if something piques your interest. Sometimes the actual English title may be different, I’m going by the most plausible translation.

  5. Ditto on the Voyages to Faremido/Capillaria – I have a copy of it on my to-read shelves but I’m hard pressed to get to get it.

    Somtow Sucharitkhul was born in Thailand but raised in England. He’s written some 80s novels by the names of Mallworld, Starship & Haiku, as well as the “Inquestor” series starting with The Dawning Shadow: Light on the Sound.

  6. Cervantes, Homer, Georges Simenon. I think I’ve arrived at this party far too late.

  7. Pingback: The 2012 challenge « It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

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