Saturday, December 30, 2006

That’s All, Folks! (The Review Post)

I’m just over five months into my challenge, and according to my calculations, I should have read something like forty books from various countries by now. I’ve probably steamed through forty books easily since the end of July, but as only twenty of them actually counted toward my challenge I’d better not dwell on my progress in that respect!

But for anyone who is interested, here is my official list of books counted towards the challenge so far:

In Lucia’s Eyes, by Arthur Japin (Holland)
Les Liaisons Culinaires, by Andreas Staïkos (Greece)
Spring Flowers, Spring Frost, by Ismail Kadare (Albania)
No Saints or Angels, by Ivan Klíma. (Czech Republic)
Embers, by Sándor Márai (Hungary)
The Czar's Madman, by Jaan Kross (Estonia)
The Three Cornered Hat, by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón (Spain)
The Fish Can Sing, by Halldór Laxness (Iceland)
Les Enfants Terribles, by Jean Cocteau (France)
Journey In Blue, by Stig Dalager (Denmark)
Reunion, by Fred Uhlman (Germany)
Home And Exile, by Chinua Achebe (Nigeria)
As The Crow Flies, by Véronique Tadjo (Côte d'Ivoire)
So Long A Letter, by Mariama Ba (Senegal) AND Scarlet Song, by Mariama Ba (Senegal)
Ancestor Stones, by Aminatta Forna ( Sierra Leone)
The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, by Ayi Kwei Armah (Ghana)
This Blinding Absence of Light, by Tahar Ben Jelloun (Morocco)
Woman At Point Zero, by Nadal El Saadawi (Egypt)
Memories of My Melancholy Whores, by Gabriel Garcia Márquez (Colombia)
Waiting, by Ha Jin (China) and A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li (China)

It is difficult to pick out favourites, because now that I look back, I enjoyed almost all of the above titles. So Long A Letter was an absolute revelation and is my most appreciated book of all time so far; but as for the rest of the list, the titles listed encompass such a variety of styles and themes that I am reluctant to begin analysing the merits of each. What I can say with absolute certainty is that purposely exploring literature from across the globe has been exceptionally gratifying. Almost everything I’ve read has been quality writing, but the array of cultural/social settings and opinions expressed has been diverse enough to constantly capture my attention and encourage me to take a fresh look at some of my own attitudes, or, on a different note, revisit things like Andersen’s fairy tales which are quite surprisingly different from an adult perspective.

For the final few hours of 2006, I’m going to take advantage of the Christmas break to indulge in some of the books I received as presents which are unrelated to my world literature challenge, but I promise I’ll be back on the global diet in 2007! Expect a post with reading and blogging resolutions in the near future…


Dorothy W. said...

That's a useful list -- I'm glad to have your blog as a source of recommendations!

Imani said...

I'm curious about what you thought of the Armah. I did that novel for school and fell pretty hard for it, visceral, graphic imagery and all. I've always meant to read his other novels but never got around to it. I should.

That's a really impressive diversity of countries represented in your list--kudos!

The Traveller said...

Thanks Dorothy - I get reading inspiration from other blogs all the time, which is definitely part of the reason I'm so behind with my own challenge!

Imani, I actually found the Armah pretty hard to get on with. It was one of those I started,laid aside for a couple of weeks then finished. I think it was because of the reasons you cite for your liking the book - for me it was a little too gritty, but funnily enough, the impressions of the book I'm left with are mainly imagery which shows how effectively Armah writes. I especially recall the bus driver counting his spoils while the protagonist slept with his eyes open at the back of the bus, with saliva running down his chin.

kimbofo said...

I got pointed here via Dorothy and I am so glad I visited. What a wonderful and inspiring reading challenge you have set yourself. I love reading books in translation and this list will be a good source of information!

Zandria said...

I love seeing lists of books! It took me a while, but I just finished putting together a list of all the books I read in 2006: all 110 of them! This is more than double what I read in 2005, due to various factors (explained in more detail in the post). They're broken down into categories, and I denoted the ones that I liked the best. :)

litlove said...

It's such a fascinating programme of reading that you've set yourself - I'm so interested to know where you'll go from here. And I'm delighted you liked the Ba.

The Traveller said...

Kimbofo, thanks - I'd welcome any recommendations you have, I'm always looking for new sources of inspiration for new countries.

Zandria, lists of books are such fun! And looking back over what you've read creates a real sense of achievement.

Litlove, I'm glad you find it interesting - it's why I chose to do this, really. I was bored with aimlessly picking books up. Reading with a purpose is fa more fulfilling, even if the purpose is as arbitrary as mine!

Danielle said...

I think your list is quite impressive even if you didn't read as many as you would have liked! Good luck with the project in 2007! As others have mentioned--it is a great source for books from other cultures!