Posts tagged with ‘books’

Almaty-Transit  by Dana Mazur

This is my book from Kazakhstan for the Read The World challenge, and it is, unusually, contemporary literary fiction (from 2010!). Which would be even more unusual if it had actually been translated from Kazakh or Russian, but it’s a novel in English by a Kazakh immigrant to the US. And the action moves between Los Angeles — where Aidar, a Kazakh […]

Read The World challenge: status report, 2014

I’ve only ticked off nine new countries in the last twelve months. This means that the finish-line has receded even further into the future, but hey-ho.

Doña Bárbara by Rómulo Gallegos

An interesting fact about Rómulo Gallegos: he was the first democratically elected president of Venezuela, in 1948 (although only for a few months before losing power to a coup d’état). He was a writer before he was a politician; Doña Bárbara was published in 1929. It is, of course, my book from Venezuela for the Read The […]

The Forlorn Adventure by Amir Falique

This is my book from Brunei for the Read The World challenge. Brunei is one of the countries which is particularly difficult to find books from; so when I found this self-published ‘science fiction thriller’ on Amazon I snapped it up. It is the story of A’jon, a man chosen to be Brunei’s first astronaut because of […]

Dante International by Sharon Kasanda

Dante International is my book from Namibia for the Read The World challenge. A few months ago, I picked a detective novel for Malaysia because I thought it would make a good change to read newly released genre fiction rather than decades-old literary stuff. This is what I said about that book: 21 Immortals was a […]

My Country, Africa: Autobiography of the Black Pasionaria by Andrée Blouin

I read this for the Read The World challenge as my book from the Central African Republic, which is where Andrée Blouin was born — although she didn’t actually live there for very long. Her father, Pierre Gerbillat, was a French businessman with a transport company in what was then French Equatorial Africa. He saw Andrée’s mother, […]

Epitaph of a Small Winner* by Machado de Assis

I’ve already read a book from Brazil for the Read The World challenge, but I really enjoyed this so I thought I’d add it to the blog-pile. I can’t remember why I picked this up, but I *really* enjoyed it. It’s a C19th novel which is ‘surprisingly modern’ — in scare quotes because that seems to be […]

21 Immortals by Rozlan Mohd Noor and Ripples by Shih-Li Kow

These are a couple of books from Malaysia which I read for the Read The World challenge, both picked because I thought they would make a change compared to some of what I read for the challenge. For a start, they’re both contemporary works, rather than the 20, 30, 40 year old books I often […]

Slavery by Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon

This is a grim but fascinating book. Obviously I knew that black people in the southern states of the US had a pretty rough time of it in the period between the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement, what with disenfranchisement and segregation and lynching. But I didn’t appreciate that slavery re-emerged and continued […]

Mirabella and the Pearl of Chulothe by Laila Al Bellucci

This is my book from Oman for the Read The World challenge. It’s a YA fantasy novel set in an English boarding school, so it’s a slightly odd choice for my purposes; but there weren’t many good alternatives, and it was cheap on kindle, so I thought I might as well read it. It’s not […]

God’s Bits of Wood by Ousmane Sembène

This is a novel from 1960 about the railway workers’ strike on the Niger-Dakar railway 13 years earlier. When I said in my Read The World challenge status update that I’d read 16½ books this year, this was the half book; it has taken me rather a long time to finish. Mainly I think that’s […]

Read The World challenge: status report, 2013

As of August 1st, I’ve been reading my way round the world for five years and I’m at 135 countries accounted for — or 99 books read since I started (99½, actually). You can check the map here. Which means I’ve read 16 (and a half!) this year. Which is down from the rate I managed at […]

African Philosophy: Myth & Reality by Paulin J. Hountondji

This is my book from Benin for the Read The World challenge. I ordered it because I fancied a change from post-colonial fiction, and then regretted it almost immediately; I’ve always been a bit ambivalent about philosophy as a discipline. Actually, though, I found it interesting and it really did make a nice change. It […]

The Blue Sky: A Novel by Galsan Tschinag

A book from the perspective of the youngest child of a family of nomadic Tuvan sheep herders in Mongolia. Apparently it’s the first book of an autobiographical trilogy,* along with The Gray Earth and The White Mountain. It’s set in the communist Mongolia of the 40s, although the politics is something remote in this book: both because […]

The Chronicles of Dathra, a Dowdy Girl from Kuwait by Danderma

Part of the point of the Read the World challenge was to read things that would never have found normally. The Chronicles of Dathra certainly fits that description; it is self-published Kuwaiti chick-lit. According to the blurb: Dathra is the story of a kind hearted pretty girl from Kuwait whose qualities are hidden beneath her excessive […]

Life and a Half by Sony Labou Tansi

This is my book from the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the Read The World challenge (which was still the Belgian Congo when Sony Lab’ou Tansi was born and was Zaire when he died). It is yet another book about dictatorship — a sequence of dictatorships in this case, each as violent and capricious as the one before. From the very first scene, in which a […]

The Teacher of Cheops by Albert Salvadó

Albert Salvadó is an Andorran novelist; The Teacher of Cheops is the only one of his books to be translated into English, and it is, unsurprisingly, my book from Andorra for the Read The World challenge. It is, as the title suggests, a historical novel set in ancient Egypt. It tells the story of a slave, Sedum, who gains his freedom […]

Survival in the Killing Fields by Haing Ngor and Roger Warner

Survival in the Killing Fields is my book from Cambodia for the Read The World challenge. Haing Ngor was a doctor in pre-revolutionary Phnom Penh. That alone was enough to make him a target for the Khmer Rouge, but he managed to survive their regime through lies, determination, judgement and blind luck. Later he made it to America, was […]

The Free Negress Elisabeth by Cynthia Mc Leod

This is the novelised true story of Elisabeth Samson, a freeborn black woman in C18th Suriname, when it was a Dutch colony built on slave labour. She became one of the richest landowners in the colony and fought a legal battle for the right to marry a white man, successfully arguing that Dutch law superseded […]

The Diesel by Thani Al-Suwaidi

I actually finished this about a week ago, but I’ve been busy doing other things: hacking, snorting, waking up in the night with my lungs apparently trying to invert themselves. But this morning I feel much more human, so: this is my book from the United Arab Emirates for the Read The World challenge. It’s […]

The Republic of San Marino by Charles de Bruc

… or to give him his full Ruritanian title, ‘Comte Charles de Bruc, Chargé d’Affaires de la République de St Marin à Paris, Grand Croix de l’Ordre Équestre de Saint Marin, Officier de l’Ordre des SS. Maurice et Lazare, etc.’ Although I guess even that’s not his full title, because it ends with ‘etc’. This […]

Books of the year 2012

Now I list (most of) the books I read on Goodreads, it’s pretty easy to glance back over the books I read in 2012. And I can report the sad fact that I didn’t give a single book a five star rating last year. As the person who gives those scores, I know exactly what […]

Beyond the Islands by Alicia Yánez Cossío

Beyond the Islands is set in the Galapagos. It’s a novel in the form of a set of eight stories, each about a different character. Each picks up from where the previous one left off, and there is continuity and overlap, but they are somewhat separate stories; eight narrative arcs rather than one overarching one. […]